Born St Andrews, Fife (1851 to 1875). ‘Tommy’ Morris eclipsed his contemporaries and totally changed their conception of how well the game could be played-like Vardon, Jones and Hogan in later generations. He excelled in all parts of the game. A powerful striker who was occasionally wild with his driving, he could rip his recoveries from the resulting bad lies. His iron play was revolutionary: he used the small-headed rut iron as a pitching club, obtaining increased backspin by playing off the back foot. His putting on the poor greens of the time -amazed others for its boldness from a distance and its consistency from close up.
He won his first Open at 17, succeeding his father as champion. He remains the youngest winner and is the only golfer to have won four in a row. (There was no championship in 1871 as Morris had won the trophy, a fine Morocco belt, outright due to his hat-trick of victories. The present silver claret jug was not played for until 1872. ) His victory margins were 5, 11, 12 and 3 strokes and his average per round, the equivalent of 74.5, was unbeaten even by the Triumvirate during the era of the gutty . His first-round 47 in 1870 was one of the greatest rounds of golf ever played.
At the age of 24, Young Tom died from a lung haemorrhage on Christmas Day, 1875, just three months after his wife had died while giving birth to their still-born child.
Open Champions at Prestwick
Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.