- When: 18th to 21st July 2024
- Where: Royal Troon Golf Club, South Ayrshire, Scotland
- Watch: Sky Sports
- Official Website: The Open Championship
The Open is the oldest of the four majors in golf. With it comes a history and tradition that is unrivalled by any event past or present. As it’s the only major based outside the US, it holds dear to those from Britain and across Europe, with courses designed to test the ability of all players that take part.
The 2024 Open will be the 152nd edition of the tournament. This will be held at Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, South Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland. This will be the 10th time the Open has been played there, the last time prior to 2024 was in 2016 when Henrik Stenson won his only Major Championship.
There should be quite a few offers for the tournament from the bookies. Starting with enhanced places for each way bets, quickly followed by a few free bets and money back specials.
Existing Customer Free Bets & Money Back Offers
Note: Offers will appear here nearer the event as and when they become available.
The Open Championship Betting Tips
Please note: The following tips are for 2023 and will be updated shortly before the event starts.
This week sees the eyes of the golfing world turn to Merseyside as Royal Liverpool provides the stage for the oldest tournament of them all. First held way back in 1860, The Open has moved around Britain’s finest links courses over the years, and in 2023 heads to the Hoylake venue for the 13th time. Tiger Woods lifted the title here in 2006 – when using his driver precisely once – whilst Rory McIlroy bagged a hugely popular success in 2014.
Having undergone a few tweaks since that 2014 edition – most notably the addition of a brand-new hole – the course now plays as a Par 71 just shy of 7,400, with the back nine now notably long. That said, the standard links requirements are likely to be important, namely an ability to flight the ball low, imagination, and great touch around the greens.
Kicking off on Thursday 20th July, the 151st edition of this historic event will, as ever, serve up four of the finest days of the year. Here we run through the main contenders for the Claret Jug, a selection of lively outsiders, and pick out our best bets for the fourth and final Major of what can only be described as a tumultuous 2023 in golf.
Having racked up four Major triumphs between 2011 and 2014 and standing on the brink of a career Grand Slam, it is hard to believe that Rory McIlroy has failed to add to that tally in the nine intervening years. If he is to avoid that stretch extending to a decade, this represents his last chance.
However, he might just be in the form to get the job done. After all, it’s not as if McIlroy hasn’t been knocking on the door, having finished second in the 2022 Masters and again filling the runners-up spot in this year's U.S. Open. The winner of the most recent edition of the tournament to be held at this course, and arriving on the back of a thrilling Scottish Open success, it is no surprise to see the Northern Irishman head the betting at a best price of 15/2.
Narrowly behind McIlroy, at a general 8/1, is world number one Scottie Scheffler. The finest tee-to-green player currently in the game, it is reasonable to suggest that Scheffler would have at least doubled his tally of two wins for the season if his performance on the green had been anywhere near his elite ball striking.
Boasting just the one major success thus far, at the 2022 Masters, Scheffler has, nevertheless, been ultra-consistent in the biggest events, with nine top-10s from 13 Major outings since 2020, including runners-up finishes in both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. T8 and 21st finishes in his two previous cracks at this suggest he may be slightly more suited to the U.S. courses, but given his current form and sheer talent, Scheffler is a man not to be dismissed wherever he shows up.
Rounding out the current big three of the golfing world is 12/1 shot, Jon Rahm. Simply electrifying at the start of the season, the big-hitting Spaniard won four times in the space of just 11 starts on the PGA Tour, culminating in that famous Masters success at Augusta National.
Having broken his major duck in the 2021 U.S. Open, Rahm is now halfway towards the career Grand Slam and will no doubt have a win in this event sitting pretty high on his wish list. On the downside, his form since that Masters triumph has dipped from those unsustainable early season levels. However, that is possibly understandable, and a T10 finish at the U.S. Open showed he is still in fine shape to contend when motivation levels are high, as they surely will be here. T3 at Royal St. George’s in 2021, it would be no surprise to see him in the shake-up.
Leading the charge for the LIV defectors is none other than reigning Open champion, Cameron Smith. Storming to victory with a sizzling final round of 64 at St. Andrews 12 months ago, he is certainly in the form to put up a bold defence of his crown, having finished inside the top 10 in his two most recent majors outings.
Whether this test proves quite so suitable as St. Andrews remains to be seen, but one of the finest putters in the game rates a major threat to all if able to keep himself within striking distance. At around the 16/1 mark, the Aussie looks set to be a popular each-way option.
Moving further down the list, one of the names to immediately jump out at 35/1 is two-time Major winner, Dustin Johnson. Those successes did come at the U.S. Open (2016) and Masters (2020), but the 39-year-old also boasts a solid record in this tournament, with three top 10 from 12 starts.
Harking back to the most recent edition at this venue, Johnson took the course apart with a 65 on the Friday, only to ultimately fade into 12th, but that round did at least suggest this venue holds no fears. Possibly drawing inspiration from his good friend Brooks Koepka, Johnson appears to be rediscovering some of his best form of late, most notably in a T10 finish in the U.S. Open in his most recent Major outing.
For Jordan Spieth (35/1), the wait for a fourth career Major now stretches to six years. However, that latest success did come in the 2017 edition of this tournament held at the nearby Royal Birkdale. Could a return to Merseyside see Spieth back in top spot?
Possessing one of the best imaginations and deftest hands in the game, Spieth looks a natural fit for links golf and has been in fine form so far this season, with six top-six finishes since February, including a fourth-placed effort at the Masters. No missed cuts and five top-10 finishes from just nine Open efforts is a fine return, and suggests he won’t be far away if not held back by a niggling wrist injury.
For now, Viktor Hovland remains a Major winner in waiting, but there will be plenty who believe that the wait may end here. Brilliant but erratic over the past couple of seasons, the 25-year-old's results have improved since taking a more circumspect approach to his game, particularly around the greens.
Seventh at the Masters and T2 at the PGA Championship, he then picked up a fourth PGA title at the Memorial Tournament in June, suggesting his game is in excellent shape. Hovland’s Open form also makes for encouraging reading. Twelveth on debut here in 2021, he then finished an excellent fourth 12 months ago. Trending in the right direction, he may not be far away at a best price of 22/1.
Others to note include Robert MacIntyre (80/1), who has two top-10 efforts from three attempts at this tournament, and recently finished second to McIlroy in Scotland; 2019 winner Shane Lowry (35/1), who appears to be running into form at just the right time; recent U.S. Open winner Wyndham Clark (55/1), who must go down as the most improved player of 2023; and don’t discount a decent showing from the up-and-coming Ewan Ferguson (350/1) who won the Amateur Boys title around this course. That’s a huge price with so many firms offering plenty of extra each way places.
Predictions & Tips
As we can see, there are plenty in with chances here, but overall, we can’t resist the combination of class, current form, and course suitability of Rory McIlroy. Sensational in that closing round of the Scottish Open, the return to the scene of his 2014 success can inspire him to Major win number five at last.
Jordan Spieth is very tempting from an each-way perspective, but with that slight concern regarding his wrist, we are just swayed towards the claims of Viktor Hovland. Making notable strides so far in 2023, and boasting a rock-solid record in this tournament, he looks attractively priced for a breakout Major success.
Betting Tip – Rory McIlroy to win at 15/2
Each Way Tip – Viktor Hovland at 22/1
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Open Championship Winners – 2000 to 2023
|2023||Brian Harman||36||26||Royal Liverpool||271 (-13)|
|2022||Cameron Smith||28||6||St Andrews||268 (-20)|
|2021||Collin Morikawa||24||4||Royal St George’s||265 (-15)|
|2019||Shane Lowry (IRE)||32||33||Royal Portrush||269 (-15)|
|2018||Francesco Molinari (ITA)||35||15||Carnoustie||276 (-8)|
|2017||Jordan Spieth (USA)||23||3||Royal Birkdale||268 (-12)|
|2016||Henrik Stenson (SWE)||40||6||Royal Troon||264 (-20)|
|2015||Zach Johnson (USA)||39||25||St Andrews||273 (-15)|
|2014||Rory McIlroy (NIR)||25||8||Royal Liverpool||271 (-17)|
|2013||Phil Mickelson (USA)||43||5||Muirfield||281 (-3)|
|2012||Ernie Els (RSA)||42||40||Royal Lytham & St Annes||273 (-7)|
|2011||Darren Clarke (NIR)||42||111||Royal St George’s||275 (-5)|
|2010||Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)||27||54||St Andrews||272 (-16)|
|2009||Stewart Cink (USA)||36||33||Turnberry||278 (-2)|
|2008||Padraig Harrington (IRE)||36||14||Royal Birkdale||283 (+3)|
|2007||Padraig Harrington (IRE)||35||10||Carnoustie||277 (-7)|
|2006||Tiger Woods (USA)||30||1||Royal Liverpool||270 (-18)|
|2005||Tiger Woods (USA)||29||1||St Andrews||274 (-14)|
|2004||Todd Hamilton (USA)||38||56||Royal Troon||274 (-10)|
|2003||Ben Curtis (USA)||26||396||Royal St George’s||283 (-1)|
|2002||Ernie Els (RSA)||32||3||Muirfield||278 (-6)|
|2001||David Duval (USA)||29||7||Royal Lytham & St Annes||274 (-10)|
|2000||Tiger Woods||24||1||St Andrews||269 (-19)|
Ranking refers to official world ranking prior to the tournament courtesy of owgr.com
- 1st Round – Thursday 18th July 2024, tee times will be available here
- 2nd Round – Friday 19th July 2024, tee times will be available here
- 3rd Round – Saturday 20th July 2024, tee times will be available here
- 4th Round – Sunday 21st July 2024, tee times will be available here
The tee times below are for the 2023 Open at Royal Liverpool and will be updated ahead of each days play at Royal Troon in 2024.
Round 1 Tee Times (Thursday 20th July 2023)
|Game||Time||Player 1||Player 2||Player 3|
|1||06:35||Matthew Jordan||Richie Ramsay||Branden Grace|
|2||06:46||Russell Henley||Jazz Janewattananond||Graeme Robertson|
|3||06:57||Ryan Fox||Lucas Herbert||Byeong Hun An|
|4||07:08||Rikuya Hoshino||Charl Schwartzel||Alex Maguire|
|5||07:19||Adrian Meronk||Pablo Larrazabal||Hiroshi Iwata|
|6||07:30||Patrick Reed||Connor Syme||Jose Luis Ballester Barrio|
|7||07:41||Darren Clarke||Victor Perez||Thomas Pieters|
|8||07:52||Louis Oosthuizen||Joost Luiten||Christo Lamprecht|
|9||08:03||Stewart Cink||JT Poston||Trey Mullinax|
|10||08:14||Henrik Stenson||Harris English||Andrew Putnam|
|11||08:25||Scott Stallings||Jordan Smith||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|12||08:36||Ernie Els||Kurt Kitayama||Takumi Kanaya|
|13||08:47||Sam Burns||Sepp Straka||Chris Kirk|
|14||09:03||Jordan Spieth||Matt Fitzpatrick||Jason Day|
|15||09:14||Padraig Harrington||Seamus Power||Talor Gooch|
|16||09:25||KH Lee||Davis Riley||Taiga Semikawa|
|17||09:36||Patrick Cantlay||Brooks Koepka||Hideki Matsuyama|
|18||09:47||Scottie Scheffler||Tommy Fleetwood||Adam Scott|
|19||09:58||Cameron Smith||Xander Schauffele||Wyndham Clark|
|20||10:09||Shane Lowry||Rickie Fowler||Robert MacIntyre|
|21||10:20||Cameron Young||Si Woo Kim||Bryson DeChambeau|
|22||10:31||Nicolai Hojgaard||Bio Kim||Kazuki Yasumori|
|23||10:42||Dan Bradbury||Oliver Farr||Haydn Barron|
|24||10:53||Marcel Siem||Martin Rohwer||Tiger Christensen|
|25||11:04||Lee Hodges||Antoine Rozner||Richard Bland|
|26||11:15||Yannik Paul||Sami Valimaki||Laurie Canter|
|27||11:36||Rasmus Hojgaard||Matthew Southgate||Alex Fitzpatrick|
|28||11:47||Daniel Hillier||Kyung Nam Kang||Kensei Hirata|
|29||11:58||Callum Shinkwin||Kazuki Higa||Michael Kim|
|30||12:09||Zack Fischer||Taichi Kho||Kyle Barker|
|31||12:20||Brendon Todd||Romain Langasque||Travis Smyth|
|32||12:31||Gary Woodland||Adrian Otaegui||Alexander Bjork|
|33||12:42||Min Woo Lee||Christiaan Bezuidenhout||Harrison Crowe|
|34||12:53||Corey Conners||Billy Horschel||Alex Noren|
|35||13:04||Tom Kim||Tom Hoge||Abraham Ancer|
|36||13:15||Zach Johnson||Matt Wallace||David Micheluzzi|
|37||13:26||Sahith Theegala||Emiliano Grillo||Dustin Johnson|
|38||13:37||Francesco Molinari||Denny McCarthy||M. Fernadez De Oliveira|
|39||13:48||Brian Harman||Thriston Lawrence||Thomas Detry|
|40||14:04||John Daly||Taylor Moore||Danny Willett|
|41||14:15||David Lingmerth||Ben Griffin||Ockie Strydom|
|42||14:26||Adri Arnaus||Ewen Ferguson||Keita Nakajima|
|43||14:37||Keegan Bradley||Sungjae Im||Joaquin Niemann|
|44||14:48||Viktor Hovland||Tony Finau||Justin Thomas|
|45||14:59||Rory McIlroy||Jon Rahm||Justin Rose|
|46||15:10||Collin Morikawa||Max Homa||Tyrrell Hatton|
|47||15:21||Phil Mickelson||Nick Taylor||Adam Schenk|
|48||15:32||Nacho Elvira||Marc Warren||Alejandro Canizares|
|49||15:43||Guido Migliozzi||Oliver Wilson||Connor McKinney|
|50||15:54||Kalle Samooja||Shubhankar Sharma||Gunner Wiebe|
|51||16:05||Jorge Campillo||Brandon Robinson Thompson||Michael Stewart|
|52||16:16||Hurly Long||Seungsu Han||Marco Penge|
Round 2 Tee Times (Friday 21st July 2023)
|Game||Time||Player 1||Player 2||Player 3|
|1||06:35||Rasmus Hojgaard||Matthew Southgate||Alex Fitzpatrick|
|2||06:46||Daniel Hillier||Kyung Nam Kang||Kensei Hirata|
|3||06:57||Callum Shinkwin||Kazuki Higa||Michael Kim|
|4||07:08||Zack Fischer||Taichi Kho||Kyle Barker|
|5||07:19||Brendon Todd||Romain Langasque||Travis Smyth|
|6||07:30||Gary Woodland||Adrian Otaegui||Alexander Bjork|
|7||07:41||Min Woo Lee||Christiaan Bezuidenhout||Harrison Crowe|
|8||07:52||Corey Conners||Billy Horschel||Alex Noren|
|9||08:03||Tom Kim||Tom Hoge||Abraham Ancer|
|10||08:14||Zach Johnson||Matt Wallace||David Micheluzzi|
|11||08:25||Sahith Theegala||Emiliano Grillo||Dustin Johnson|
|12||08:36||Francesco Molinari||Denny McCarthy||M. Fernadez De Oliveira|
|13||08:47||Brian Harman||Thriston Lawrence||Thomas Detry|
|14||09:03||John Daly||Taylor Moore||Danny Willett|
|15||09:14||David Lingmerth||Ben Griffin||Ockie Strydom|
|16||09:25||Adri Arnaus||Ewen Ferguson||Keita Nakajima|
|17||09:36||Keegan Bradley||Sungjae Im||Joaquin Niemann|
|18||09:47||Viktor Hovland||Tony Finau||Justin Thomas|
|19||09:58||Rory McIlroy||Jon Rahm||Justin Rose|
|20||10:09||Collin Morikawa||Max Homa||Tyrrell Hatton|
|21||10:20||Phil Mickelson||Nick Taylor||Adam Schenk|
|22||10:31||Nacho Elvira||Marc Warren||Alejandro Canizares|
|23||10:42||Guido Migliozzi||Oliver Wilson||Connor McKinney|
|24||10:53||Kalle Samooja||Shubhankar Sharma||Gunner Wiebe|
|25||11:04||Jorge Campillo||Brandon Robinson Thompson||Michael Stewart|
|26||11:15||Hurly Long||Seungsu Han||Marco Penge|
|27||11:36||Matthew Jordan||Richie Ramsay||Branden Grace|
|28||11:47||Russell Henley||Jazz Janewattananond||Graeme Robertson|
|29||11:58||Ryan Fox||Lucas Herbert||Byeong Hun An|
|30||12:09||Rikuya Hoshino||Charl Schwartzel||Alex Maguire|
|31||12:20||Adrian Meronk||Pablo Larrazabal||Hiroshi Iwata|
|32||12:31||Patrick Reed||Connor Syme||Jose Luis Ballester Barrio|
|33||12:42||Darren Clarke||Victor Perez||Thomas Pieters|
|34||12:53||Louis Oosthuizen||Joost Luiten||Christo Lamprecht|
|35||13:04||Stewart Cink||JT Poston||Trey Mullinax|
|36||13:15||Henrik Stenson||Harris English||Andrew Putnam|
|37||13:26||Scott Stallings||Jordan Smith||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|38||13:37||Ernie Els||Kurt Kitayama||Takumi Kanaya|
|39||13:48||Sam Burns||Sepp Straka||Chris Kirk|
|40||14:04||Jordan Spieth||Matt Fitzpatrick||Jason Day|
|41||14:15||Padraig Harrington||Seamus Power||Talor Gooch|
|42||14:26||KH Lee||Davis Riley||Taiga Semikawa|
|43||14:37||Patrick Cantlay||Brooks Koepka||Hideki Matsuyama|
|44||14:48||Scottie Scheffler||Tommy Fleetwood||Adam Scott|
|45||14:59||Cameron Smith||Xander Schauffele||Wyndham Clark|
|46||15:10||Shane Lowry||Rickie Fowler||Robert MacIntyre|
|47||15:21||Cameron Young||Si Woo Kim||Bryson DeChambeau|
|48||15:32||Nicolai Hojgaard||Bio Kim||Kazuki Yasumori|
|49||15:43||Dan Bradbury||Oliver Farr||Haydn Barron|
|50||15:54||Marcel Siem||Martin Rohwer||Tiger Christensen|
|51||16:05||Lee Hodges||Antoine Rozner||Richard Bland|
|52||16:16||Yannik Paul||Sami Valimaki||Laurie Canter|
Round 3 Tee Times (Saturday 22nd July 2023)
|Game||Time||Player 1||Player 2|
|1||08:55||Robert MacIntyre||Rickie Fowler|
|2||09:05||Adam Scott||Scottie Scheffler|
|3||09:15||Brooks Koepka||Patrick Cantlay|
|4||09:25||Padraig Harrington||Scott Stallings|
|5||09:35||Andrew Putnam||Christo Lamprecht|
|6||09:45||Victor Perez||Ryan Fox|
|7||10:00||Richie Ramsay||David Lingmerth|
|8||10:10||Danny Willett||Sami Valimaki|
|9||10:20||Bryson DeChambeau||Xander Schauffele|
|10||10:30||Cameron Smith||Matt Fitzpatrick|
|11||10:40||Kurt Kitayama||J.T. Poston|
|12||10:50||Louis Oosthuizen||Patrick Reed|
|13||11:00||Rikuya Hoshino||Hurly Long|
|14||11:15||Brandon Robinson Thompson||Tyrrell Hatton|
|15||11:25||Jon Rahm||Sungjae Im|
|16||11:35||Zach Johnson||Corey Conners|
|17||11:45||Christiaan Bezuidenhout||Gary Woodland|
|18||11:55||Romain Langasque||Brendon Todd|
|19||12:05||Zach Fischer||Alex Fitzpatrick|
|20||12:15||Jordan Smith||Joost Luiten|
|21||12:30||Thomas Pieters||Adrian Meron|
|22||12:40||Byeong Hun An||Oliver Wilson|
|23||12:50||Thomas Detry||Abraham Ancer|
|24||13:00||Alex Noren||Marcel Siem|
|25||13:10||Hideki Matsuyama||Viktor Hovland|
|26||13:20||Tom Kim||Alexander Bjork|
|27||13:30||Laurie Canter||Richard Bland|
|28||13:45||Antoine Rozner||Nicolai Hojgaard|
|29||13:55||Wyndham Clark||Henrik Stenson|
|30||14:05||Stewart Cink||Matthew Jordan|
|31||14:15||Michael Stewart||Guido Migliozzi|
|32||14:25||Max Homa||Rory McIlroy|
|33||14:35||Thriston Lawrence||Matthew Southgate|
|34||14:45||Cameron Young||Jordan Spieth|
|35||15:00||Emiliano Grillo||Adrian Otaegui|
|36||15:10||Jason Day||Shubhankar Sharma|
|37||15:20||Min Woo Lee||Sepp Straka|
|38||15:30||Tommy Fleetwood||Brian Harman|
Round 4 Tee Times (Saturday 23rd July 2023)
|Game||Time||Player 1||Player 2|
|1||07:45||Christo Lamprecht||Danny Willett|
|2||07:55||Scott Stallings||Zack Fischer|
|3||08:05||Bryson DeChambeau||Andrew Putnam|
|4||08:15||Padraig Harrington||Robert MacIntyre|
|5||08:25||Adrian Otaegui||Adrian Meronk|
|6||08:35||Gary Woodland||Brandon Robinson Thompson|
|7||08:45||Brooks Koepka||Scottie Scheffler|
|8||08:55||Thriston Lawrence||Marcel Siem|
|9||09:10||Kurt Kitayama||Richie Ramsay|
|10||09:20||Victor Perez||Adam Scott|
|11||09:30||Matthew Southgate||Christiaan Bezuidenhout|
|12||09:40||Zach Johnson||Hurly Long|
|13||09:50||Louis Oosthuizen||David Lingmerth|
|14||10:00||Laurie Canter||Alex Noren|
|15||10:10||Abraham Ancer||Oliver Wilson|
|16||10:20||Thomas Pieters||Joost Luiten|
|17||10:35||Jordan Smith||Rikuya Hoshino|
|18||10:45||Sami Valimaki||Ryan Fox|
|19||10:55||Brendon Todd||JT Poston|
|20||11:05||Guido Migliozzi||Michael Stewart|
|21||11:15||Stewart Cink||Henrik Stenson|
|22||11:25||Wyndham Clark||Richard Bland|
|23||11:35||Alexander Bjork||Byeong Hun An|
|24||11:45||Corey Conners||Tyrrell Hatton|
|25||12:00||Patrick Reed||Cameron Smith|
|26||12:10||Xander Schauffele||Patrick Cantlay|
|27||12:20||Rickie Fowler||Min Woo Lee|
|28||12:30||Jordan Spieth||Max Homa|
|29||12:40||Hideki Matsuyama||Romain Langasque|
|30||12:50||Sungjae Im||Matt Fitzpatrick|
|31||13:00||Emiliano Grillo||Rory McIlroy|
|32||13:10||Matthew Jordan||Nicolai Hojgaard|
|33||13:25||Tom Kim||Thomas Detry|
|34||13:35||Shubhankar Sharma||Alex Fitzpatrick|
|35||13:45||Tommy Fleetwood||Sepp Straka|
|36||13:55||Jason Day||Antoine Rozner|
|37||14:05||Viktor Hovland||Jon Rahm|
|38||14:15||Cameron Young||Brian Harman|
About The Open Championship
One of the most notable features of The Open is the fact that it’s played on links courses. These are essentially golf courses that are integrated into the land and have had very little manufactured features included. As a result, the majority of them are based in costal regions of England, Ireland and Scotland. One of the features of a coastal course is that not only will the players be challenged by the layout of the land, but also have to work against the ever changing weather conditions, which in the UK can be unpredictable at best.
The choice of courses used in The Open is decided by the Royal and Ancient, who will often make their selection up to five years in advance. Some of the better-known courses include St. Andrews, Muirfield, Royal Liverpool, Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham and Turnberry.
The Open was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, Scotland. The inaugural event was actually restricted to professional golfers, with Willie Park, Sr. winning the thirty-six hole, one day event on Prestwick’s then twelve-hole course. It was in the following year, 1861, when The Open started allowing amateurs to compete and they have been ever since.
The Open is the third Major of the year, coming after the Masters, PGA Championship and the US Open. The event is played in July each year and boasts a prize pool of over £12.8 million/$16.5 million (2023).
How The Open Championship Began
We know that the first Open took place at Prestwick in 1860, but why was it played in the first place? A man named Allan Robertson was considered to be one of the first professional golfers and he passed away in 1859. As a result, the members of Prestwick Golf Club decided that a challenge was in order to discover who was to be the next best golfer in the land. Letters were sent to Blackheath in London, Perth, Edinburgh and other areas to invite players to contest for a ‘Challenge Belt’.
The belt was retired in 1870 after Young Tom Morris had achieved three back-to-back victories. As a result, The Golf Champion Trophy was created to replace it. If you haven’t heard of that then it’s probably because it’s better known as the Claret Jug. Prestwick Golf Club continued to administer The Open until it was agreed that they would share the duty with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers from 1871 onwards.
Changing to the Modern-Day Format
Thirty-two years after The Open was first played, a decision was taken to expand it from thirty-six holes to seventy-two. Two years after that and the tournament left Scotland for the first time, being played at Royal St. George’s in Kent. The first year that a cut was introduced was 1898, because of the sheer number of competitors wanting to take part in the event. The Royal & Ancient took complete control of the organisation of The Open in 1920.
Key Dates and Landmarks
- 1860: First Open Held at Prestwick GC, won by Willie Park Senior
- 1892: Competition extended to 72 holes
- 1894: First Open to be played outside of Scotland at Royal St. Georges
- 1898: Cut introduced at halfway to reduce the 76 player field
- 1907: First non-British winner in Frenchman Arnaud Massey
- 1920: Responsibility of the tournament passes to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews
- 1921: Jock Hutchinson becomes the first US national to win the Open
- 1922: Walter Hagan becomes the first US-born Open winner
- 1966: Switch to four days play, with eighteen holes each day (Weds – Sat)
- 1980: Four days play moves to Thursday – Sunday
- 1985: Playoff format changes to four holes, with the first instance the 1989 Open
The Open takes place over four days and on each of these days the field of both professional and amateur players takes part in eighteen holes of stroke play golf. The event starts on the Thursday and finishes on the Sunday. The cut occurs after Friday’s play, leaving only the top seventy players from the one hundred and fifty six who started, to play the remainder of the tournament over the weekend.
Whilst the majority of the field is made up of professional golfers, there are spaces and opportunities allocated to amateur players from around the world. The professionals can get in by either being in the top fifty in the official world golf rankings, top thirty of the previous season’s DP World Tour Race To Dubai, or by having been a previous winner of The Open under sixty years of age. All winners of any Major within the last five years and the top ten from the previous year’s Open are also invited to take part.
A number of Open qualifying rounds are also held around the UK throughout the year leading up to the event. These events are the gateway for any amateurs that hope to qualify for The Open and often include some professional players who don’t meet the specific qualifying criteria.
Despite the fact that amateurs have been able to play in The Open since 1861, only six Opens have been won by non-professionals to date, by just three different players. The most recent amateur to win was Bobby Jones all the way back in 1930, rounding off his Grand Slam of the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship.
Despite being a British tournament, The Open Championship has been dominated by those from further afield since the end of the Second World War. The table below details the six Opens won by an amateur player.
Amateur Open Championship Winners
|1930||Bobby Jones||Royal Liverpool||2 Shots|
|1927||Bobby Jones||St Andrews||6 Shots|
|1926||Bobby Jones||Royal Lytham & St Annes||2 Shots|
|1897||Harold Hilton||Royal Liverpool||1 Shot|
|1892||Harold Hilton||Muirfield||3 Shots|
|1890||John Ball||Prestwick||3 Shots|
The Silver Medal
Though only six Opens have been won by amateurs, plenty have done very well over the years. The leading amateur after seventy-two holes is awarded the Silver Medal. Some of the winners of the award have gone on to make a name for themselves as professionals, as this list shows:
- José María Olazábal (1985) – A two-time Masters winner in 1994 and 1999
- Tiger Woods (1996) – Became a three-time Open Champion with 15 majors in total
- Justin Rose (1998) – Won the 2013 US Open and Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics
- Rory McIlroy (2007) – Winner of the Open in 2014, with 4 major titles to date
- Matt Fitzpatrick (2013) – Winner of the US Open in 2022
British and Irish Players at The Open
Despite oversees players having the majority of recent success, that’s not to suggest that British players have had no joy. From 1860 until 1889 the only winners were from Scotland. Even once that domination had been broken, it was an Englishman who got his name into the record books. Given that Jersey is a Crown Dependency, it wasn’t until Arnaud Massy won the tournament in 1907 that a non-British person took home the trophy. That didn’t quite open the floodgates for foreign players to be labelled Open champions, but that was mainly because there was no Championship between 1915 and 1920 because of World War One.
Following the First World War, however, there was a period of American domination. With the exception of Arthur Havers in 1923, an American golfer won twelve of the following thirteen Open Championships. A spurt of English winners came before the Second World War, but then a mix of American, South African and Australian winners kept the trophy away from the Brits between Max Faulkner’s 1952 win and Tony Jacklin’s victory in 1969. The ‘70s and early ‘80s were also fallow years for British players until Sandy Lyle broke up the American and Spanish dominance in 1985.
It was Nick Faldo that truly returned a sense of British pride when he won the tournament in 1987, 1990 and 1992. Interestingly it was only English and Scottish players who won The Open from the British isles until Pádraig Harrington notched up back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008. The only previous winner from the Emerald Isle had been Northern Ireland’s Fred Daly in 1947. Once Harrington had popped that cork, however, others followed suit. The next to do so was Darren Clark in 2011 before Rory McIlroy joined him in 2014; both from Northern Ireland, of course. The latest Irish winner was Shane Lowry who won at Royal Portrush in 2019, incidentally ahead of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood in second place.
As mentioned earlier, the original trophy awarded for winning the British Open was a red leather belt with a silver buckle that was known as the Challenge Belt. After it was given to Young Tom Morris in 1870 a new award had to be introduced and so the Golf Champion Trophy was created in 1873. It was made by and Edinburgh-based firm called Mackay Cunningham & Company, with the three clubs responsible for organising the event all contributing £10 towards its cost. The Claret Jug nickname comes from the fact that the trophy was deliberately designed to look like one of the jugs used to serve claret wine in Bordeaux in the nineteenth century.
The first golfer to be presented with the newly created trophy was Tom Kidd after he won the tournament in 1873. That original Claret Jug entered a display case at The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 1928, with a new one created for The Open that year. Walter Hagen was the winner and he was allowed to keep the trophy but needed to return it in time for the tournament the following year. That rule still applies to winners now and they’re issued with a replica to keep.
The Claret Jug itself stands on top of a base that has silver plates around it. During the tournament the winner’s name is engraved on one of these plates in time for it to be there when the trophy is presented to the victorious golfer. Obviously this takes a bit of guesswork on the part of the engraver in order to complete the work in time. In 1999 Jean van de Velde had a three stroke lead heading down the last, leading to his name being inscribed on the trophy. Somewhat unbelievably, he registered a triple-bogey and ended up having to endure a play-off with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie. The latter won, meaning that the engravers work had been for nought.
As mentioned before, The Open takes place on links courses around Britain. Some enter the rotation and then disappear for a time, such as the Royal Liverpool in Hoylake on the Wirral, which was first used in 1897 and then again five years later. It was used every five or six years, with the exception of the War years, until 1967 when it stopped being selected as a course for the Championship. It rejoined the roster in 2006 and was used again in 2014 also hold the tournament in 2024.
The reason it was used every five or six years was because a decision was made to host The Open alternately in Scotland and England during its early stages. It was one of the courses that was selected to have the honour, along with Prestwick, St. George’s, St. Andrews and Muirfield. Royal Cinque Ports in Kent was added to the list in 1909 and then things were opened up much more in the 1920s, with Troon and Royal Lytham & St. Annes also being used regularly.
The Royal & Ancient confirms the courses that will be used well in advance, so we already know that The Open will be hosted by the Royal Troon Golf Club in 2024, which will be the 10th time that the course has been the venue for the Championship. It will return to Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland the following year, 2025.
Harry Vardon has the most victories in The Open’s history with six wins, but all of these were before the First Word War. In more recent times, Tom Watson has won the tournament five times, with his most recent victory being in 1983. He went very close in 2009 and if he’d have won then he’d have become the oldest major winner of all time.
The youngest winner was Young Tom Morris, who in 1868 won aged seventeen years and one hundred and fifty-six days. He later went on to win The Open five times and holds the record for most consecutive wins, with four.
There is actually quite a misunderstanding as to what ‘The Open’ is called these days due to the conflicting name of the US Open. Its official name is The Open Championship, but many residents from within the UK affectionately know it as simply, ‘The Open’. In the US, however, many call it the British Open, meaning that you’ll likely hear it called numerous things depending on where you live. Unsurprisingly, a tournament that has been in existence for more than a hundred years has a few other tales to tell. Here are some of the most interesting facts we’ve uncovered:
- Louis Oosthuizen in 2021 holds the record for the best score at the halfway stage, one better than both Nick Faldo and Brandt Snedeker
- Henrik Stenson had 133 after thirty-six holes in 2016 but went on the post a final score of 264 – the record lowest score after seventy-two holes achieved to date
- Old Tom Morris managed the greatest margin of victory thanks to his thirteen stroke lead in 1862. That remained a record margin until Tiger Woods won by fifteen strokes in the US Open in 2000
- The lowest round ever achieved in The Open is also the lowest round achieved in any Major: 62 by Branden Grace in 2017’s third round.
- Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are amongst seven players who have led from round one of The Open and not lost their lead before winning it
- Jack Nicklaus could be labelled the least fortunate player, having finished as a runner-up on seven different occasions. He did win it three times in his career, though
- Bob Charles became the first left-handed player to win a Major when he picked up the Claret Jug in 1963
- Gary Player not only appeared in more Opens than anyone else (46), he’s also the only player in the twentieth century to have won it in three different decades thanks to his wins in 1959, 1968 and 1974
- The longest span between a golfer’s first Open win and his last is nineteen years, achieved by JH Taylor who did it in 1894 and 1913