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Jim Barnes

Born Lelant, Cornwall (1887 to 1966). ‘Long’ Jim Barnes (he was 6ft 4in) emigrated to the United States in his late teens. A frequent competitor in the Open during the 1920’s, he had many good finishes. His 1925 victory, however, is remembered more for the man who lost, MacDonald Smith, a Carnoustie-born man who had also gone to America. Smith began his final round with a five-stroke lead but it seemed that the whole of Scotland had come to see him win. The stewards lost control of the 15,000 crowd and Smith lost control of his golf game. He was not helped by the fact that he thought the unruly behaviour of the crowd was intended to distract him.

Barnes, playing three hours ahead of Smith, had set the target just as Smith started out. It stood up, Barnes winning by a stroke from Ted Ray and Archie Compston. Smith, after an 82 when he never saw the result of a single long shot, came in fourth, three strokes behind. The founder of the Open, Prestwick has never hosted another. As is the case with Hoylake, the final holes are too close together to accommodate large crowds.

Barnes might have been somewhat fortunate to win this title but no such luck was needed in his US Open victory in 1921. He led after each round and won by nine strokes, still the record. He also won the first two USPGA Championships, was twice losing finalist to Hagen.

Open Champions at Prestwick

Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.

Jim Barnes