British Open history and records
Royal Liverpool Golf Club
For the 12th time in Open Championship history, Royal Liverpool Golf Club will host the major tournament. Take a look at the history and records of golf's oldest major championship.
English golfer Harry Vardon won his sixth and final Open Championship title in 1914, and he has held the record for most victories at the event ever since. Although four other golfers (James Braid, John H. Taylor, Peter Thomson and Tom Watson) have five wins, Vardon's name remains at the top of the record list. He won in 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911 and 1914.
Young Tom Morris
After winning the Open Championship in three successive years from 1868 to 1870, Young Tom Morris (Old Tom Morris' son) was given a special honor: he was allowed to keep the Championship Belt that had been the winner's trophy since the tournament's first year in 1860. Organizers commissioned a new trophy, the Claret Jug, for the next tournament in 1872. Determined to lay his claim to this prize as well, Morris won for the fourth straight time and was the first golfer to have his name engraved on the Jug.
Champions in first appearance
Ten golfers have captured a major win at The Open Championship in their first appearance at the tournament, but only once has it happened in the same decade. The lucky first-timers are Willie Park (1860), Tom Kidd (1873), Mungo Park (1874), Harold Hilton (1892), Jock Hutchison (1921), Densmore Shute (1933), Ben Hogan (pictured, 1953), Tony Lema (1964), Tom Watson (1975) and Ben Curtis (2003).
Champions in three decades
Winning a major title in each of three decades reflects not just a golfer's talent but also their longevity. With wins in 1959, 1968 and 1974, Gary Player (pictured) is the only golfer to accomplish this feat in the past 90+ years. Harry Vardon (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914) and John H. Taylor (1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913) also share the record.
Oldest and youngest winners
Oldest: Old Tom Morris (1867)
Youngest: Young Tom Morris (1868)
Scottish golfer Old Tom Morris (pictured) won the Open Championship in 1860, 1862, 1864 and 1867. His victory in 1867 came when he was 46 years and 99 days old, making him the oldest winner of the event. The following year, his son, Young Tom Morris, set the record as the youngest winner. He was just 17 years, 5 months and 3 days old.
Oldest and youngest competitors
Oldest: Gene Sarazen (1976)
Youngest: Young Tom Morris (1865)
When he teed off in the 1976 Open Championship, Gene Sarazen (pictured) was 74 years, 4 months and 9 days old. That still stands as the record for the oldest competitor ever. Young Tom Morris was the youngest competitor at the event, participating in the 1865 tournament at the age of 14 years, 4 months and 25 days.
Most victories by an amateur
American golfer Bobby Jones competed as an amateur for the entirety of his career. His three Open Championship wins give him the record for most victories by an amateur.
Champions with each round lower than the previous one
In 1906, James Braid (pictured) improved in each of his four rounds en route to capturing the Open Championship, shooting a 77, 76, 74 and 73. He is one of five champions to make that sort of progression. The others are Jack White in 1904 (80, 75, 72, 69), Henry Cotton in 1937 (74, 73, 72, 71), Ben Hogan in 1953 (73, 71, 70, 68) and Gary Player in 1959 (75, 71, 70, 68).
Lowest first round
Posting a 9-under 63 in the first round of the 139th Open Championship, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy set a new record for lowest opening-round score. The record had been the 64 shot by Craig Stadler (1983), Christy O'Connor Jr. (1985), Rodger Davis (1987), Steve Pate (1992) and Raymond Floyd (1992).
Lowest final round
Both Jodie Mudd and Payne Stewart (pictured) played their ways to fourth-round record-low scores of 63, but neither finished even in the top three. In 1991, Mudd didn't break 70 in his first three rounds and finished in a three-way tie for fifth. Payne Stewart earned a 12th-place finish in 1993.
Lowest individual round
Eight golfers have recorded scores of 63 in the Open Championship. Mark Hayes (1977), Greg Norman (pictured, 1986) and Nick Faldo all shot 63s in the second round; Isao Aoki (1980) and Paul Broadhurst equaled the mark in the third round; and Jodie Mudd and Payne Stewart had 63s in the fourth round. Rory McIlroy joined their ranks in 2010.
Lowest individual round by an amateur
Breaking a record previously set by Justin Rose (1998), Tiger Woods (1996) and Frank Stranahan (1950) by one stroke, 20-year-old Tom Lewis (pictured) stormed out to a share of the 2011 British Open lead by shooting a 5-under 65 in the opening round at Royal St. George's. He was playing in a grouping with Tom Watson, the five-time Open Championship victor after whom Lewis was named.
For 46 straight years from 1956 to 2001, Gary Player took part in every Open Championship. He holds the record for most appearances in the tournament.
Most appearances before first victory
Darren Clarke (2011)
Phil Mickelson (2013)
Darren Clarke (pictured) won his first major after 54 attempts, taking home the Claret Jug in his 20th try at the Open Championship. With four majors already under his belt, Mickelson won his first Open in 2013.
Most appearances on the final day (since 1892)
Jack Nicklaus has survived to play the final day of golf at the Open Championship a record 32 times.
Most appearances without a victory
Welsh golfer Dai Rees finished as the runner-up at the Open Championship in 1953, 1954 and 1961, but he never broke through for a victory at the event. His 29 appearances without a victory ranks as a tournament record.
Most runner-up finishes
While golfing legend Jack Nicklaus (left) has three Open Championship wins to his credit, he came very close to adding many more trophies from the event. Nicklaus finished as the runner-up a record seven times, coming in second or in a tie for second in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977 and 1979.
Outright leader after every round
Seven golfers have the distinction of going on to win The Open Championship after being the outright leader at the end of every round in a 72-hole tournament. They are Ted Ray (1912), Bobby Jones (1927), Gene Sarazen (1932), Henry Cotton (1934), Tom Weiskopf (1973), Tiger Woods (2005) and Rory McIlroy (2014, pictured).
Champions with four rounds under 70
When Tiger Woods shot rounds of 67, 66, 67 and 69 to win the Open Championship in 2000, he became the third golfer in eight years and third golfer in history to do that at the tournament. The others are Greg Norman (in 1993 with rounds of 66, 68, 69 and 64) and Nick Price, who shot 69, 66, 67 and 66 in his four rounds in 1994.
Non-champions with four rounds under 70
Ernie Els (pictured) earned an Open Championship win in 2002, but he finished as the runner-up three other times. One of those second-place finishes came when he had recorded four rounds under 70. In 2004, when he shot rounds of 69, 69, 68 and 68, Els came up short in a playoff. He also shot a 274 in 1993 with rounds of 68, 69, 69 and 68 but finished in a tie for sixth that year. Jesper Parnevik (1994) and Rickie Fowler (2014) are the only other golfers to lose despite four sub-70 rounds.
Biggest margin of victory
Old Tom Morris (1862)
Old Tom Morris' (right) 13-stroke victory in the 1862 Open Championship stood as the largest margin of victory in a major tournament for 138 years until Tiger Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes. It still is the biggest win at the Open Championship. His son, Young Tom Morris, holds the next two places on the record list at the Open Championship, with a 12-stroke victory in 1870 and an 11-stroke victory in 1869.
Record 18-hole lead (since 1892)
Of the four golfers who surged out to record 18-hole leads of four strokes, only one failed to use that advantage to his advantage and go on to win The Open Championship. That was Irish golfer Christy O'Connor Jr., who instead finished tied for third. James Braid (1908), Bobby Jones (1927) and Henry Cotton (1934) all won.
Record 36- and 54-hole leads (since 1892)
Henry Cotton (1934)
After taking a record four-stroke lead after 18 holes in the 1934 Open Championship, Henry Cotton improved on that edge and set records for 36- and 54-holes leads. The British golfer was ahead of the field by nine strokes after the first two rounds and 10 strokes heading into the tournament's final day.
Highest number of aggregates under par
Both Jack Nicklaus (pictured) and Nick Faldo lead the ranks, finishing with a total score under par 14 times at the Open Championship.
Highest number of rounds under 70
Nick Faldo has the same number of Open Championship victories as Jack Nicklaus (three) and also is tied with Nicklaus for highest number of rounds under 70 with 35.
Highest number of rounds under par
Of the 140 rounds American golfer Jack Nicklaus has played at the Open Championship, he has been under par a record 61 times.
Highest number of top-five finishes
In the 38 times Jack Nicklaus has been part of the Open Championship field, he has been cut just six times. He has the record for highest number of top-five finishes with 16.
Lowest nine-hole score
Denis Durnian (1983)
On the second day of the 1983 Open Championship, English golfer Denis Durnian started by shooting a tournament record 28 on the front nine. He shot a 38 on the back nine to finish with a second-round 66 and earned a tie for eighth place at the end of the four rounds.
Lowest aggregate in relation to par
Tiger Woods (2000)
Not only did Tiger Woods win the 2000 Open Championship title by nine strokes, but he also finished with an aggregate score of 269. That put him at 19-under par, a record for the tournament. Woods came close to equaling that mark in 2006 but finished at 18-under-par instead.
Lowest winning aggregate
Greg Norman (1993)
With rounds of 66, 68, 69 and 64 at the 1993 Open Championship, Greg Norman finished with a record-low aggregate score of 267 and the tournament title.
Lowest aggregate by an amateur
Both Tiger Woods (pictured) and Iain Pyman share the record for lowest aggregate score by an amateur. Pyman recorded rounds of 68, 72, 70 and 71 for a total of 281 in 1993, while Woods' 75, 66, 70 and 70 added up to 281 in 1996.
Lowest aggregate by a runner-up
Jesper Parnevik (pictured) recorded an impressive performance in the 1994 Open Championship, finishing with an aggregate score of 269 after rounds of 68, 66, 68 and 67. It wasn't enough to win him the title, however, as Nick Price recorded an aggregate of 268. Jack Nicklaus (1977) and Nick Faldo (1993) also shot scores of 269 but fell just short.
Best 18-hole comeback by a champion
Harry Vardon (1896)
After struggling throughout the first round of the Open Championship in 1896, English golfer Harry Vardon found himself 11 strokes off the lead heading into the second day. He rallied, however, in the subsequent rounds and went on to win the first of his six titles at the event.
Best 36-hole comeback by a champion
George Duncan (1920)
In order to win the Open Championship in 1920, George Duncan had to engineer an impressive comeback in the tournament's final 36 holes. After the first two rounds, he trailed the leader by 13 strokes.
Best 54-hole comeback by a champion
Paul Lawrie (1999)
Paul Lawrie, a Scottish golfer who had gone 13 years as a professional without a major win, trailed leader Jean Van de Velde by 10 strokes heading into the final round in 1999. Shooting a final round 67 and getting some help from Van de Velde's memorable collapse, Lawrie went on to win the title in a playoff.
Biggest recovery in 18 holes by a champion
George Duncan (1920)
Thirteen strokes off the lead heading into the third round in 1920, Scottish golfer George Duncan had erased that deficit by the day's end. He was level with leader Abe Mitchell after 54 holes.
Lowest final 54 holes
Nick Price (1994)
Zimbabwean golfer Nick Price's first-round 69 at the 1994 Open Championship was impressive, but it was his final three rounds that distinguished him. He shot rounds of 66, 67 and 66 for a record final 54-hole aggregate of 199.
Lowest first 54 holes
Tom Lehman (1996)
On the Royal Lytham course in 1996, Tom Lehman surged out to the best first 54 holes in Open Championship history. He recorded rounds of 67, 67 and 64 the first three days (then finished with a 73 but still captured the title).
Lowest first 36 holes
Nick Faldo (1992)
In 1992, Nick Faldo's final Open Championship win was aided by a superb first 36 holes of golf. He shot a 66 and 64 to open the tournament.
Lowest middle 36 holes
Fuzzy Zoeller (1994)
American golfer Fuzzy Zoeller shot a second-round 66 and a third-round 64 in 1994 to claim the record for lowest middle 36-hole score (130). Zoeller finished third that year.
Lowest final 36 holes
En route to winning the Open Championship in 1977, Tom Watson recorded the lowest final 36 holes in tournament history. He shot a 65 in both the third and fourth rounds. Ian Baker-Finch (1991) and Anders Forsbrand (1994) later equaled that aggregate of 130.
Best opening round by a champion
Louis Oosthuizen came into the 2010 British Open as a relative unknown, but he made his presence felt right off the bat in the first round, shooting a 65. That stellar score wasn't even good enough for the 18-hole lead as Rory McIlroy fired a record-tying 63. Oostheizen went on to comfortably win the Open at St. Andrews, though, defeating Lee Westwood by seven strokes.
Best finishing round by a champion
Greg Norman (1993)
Australian golfer Greg Norman looked strong for the entirety of The Open Championship in 1999, but his final round was his standout performance. He shot a 64 to win the title by two strokes over Nick Faldo.
Worst finishing round by a champion
Sam Snead (1946)
Even a final-round 75 at St. Andrews couldn't keep Sam Snead from capturing the Open Championship victory in 1946. He still won by four strokes.
Worst round by a champion since 1939
Fred Daly (1947)
A third-round 78 nearly cost Irish golfer Fred Daly his Open Championship victory in 1947, but he rebounded in the final round to hold on and win the tournament by one stroke.
Biggest leads by non-champions
With difficult conditions harassing the golfers and the pressure of playing in a major plaguing them, collapses are far from infrequent at the Open Championship. That was the case for both Jean Van de Velde (pictured) in 1999 and Macdonald Smith in 1925. Both had built five-stroke leads, but neither could maintain that advantage and earn the win.
Biggest span between first and last victories
John H. Taylor
English golfer John H. Taylor earned top honors at the Open Championship five times in his professional career. With his first victory coming in 1894 and his last in 1913 -- a 19-year period -- he holds the record for the biggest gap between wins.
Biggest span between victories
Eleven years passed between Henry Cotton's second and final Open Championships wins. After taking the title in 1934, he won again in 1937 but had to wait some time until 1948 for his third victory.
Biggest variation between rounds by a champion
Henry Cotton (1934)
Henry Cotton's (right) 1934 Open Championship victory was characterized by up-and-down play by the British golfer. He had looked impressive in the first two rounds and shot a 65 in the second round. However his third round was a 72, and his fourth round was a 79, but it didn't prevent him from winning. That 14-stroke differential between the 65 and 79 qualifies as the biggest variation between rounds by a champion.
Biggest variation between two rounds
Known for his notable disappointments at the Open Championship, the 2002 tournament was no different for Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie (pictured). Although he recorded an impressive 64 in the second round, he dropped completely out of contention with a third-round 84 and finished in 82nd place. Montgomerie isn't the only golfer to have a 20-stroke variation between two rounds; R.G. French shot a second-round 71 and then a third-round 91 in 1938.
Champion with four rounds the same
Densmore Shute (1933)
American golfer Denny Shute shot a 73 four straight rounds at the Open Championship in 1933, and it earned him a spot in a playoff. He triumphed in the extra holes for his first and only Open Championship win.
Championship since 1946 with fewest rounds under 70
At the 1968 Open Championship, only Jack Nicklaus and Billy Casper shot sub-70 rounds. The tournament, which was played at Carnoustie Golf Links (pictured), shares the record for fewest rounds under 70 with the events at St. Andrews (1946), Hoylake (1947), Portrush (1951) and Hoylake (1956).
Championship with the most rounds under 70
At Turnberry in 1994, golfers played a record 148 rounds under 70.
Course used most frequently
It's widely regarded as the worldwide "Home of Golf," so it's fitting that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has hosted more Open Championships than any other course. The tournament has been played at St. Andrews 28 times, most recently in 2010.
First players to break 70 at the Open
In 1904, for the first time at the Open Championship, players broke a single-round score of 70. John H. Taylor shot a 68, and James Braid and Jack White (pictured) shot 69s. White captured a one-stroke victory over the other two.
Leaders after every round including ties
English golfer Harry Vardon captured two of his six Open Championship titles (1899 and 1903) by holding on to sole possession of first at the end of each and every round, accomplishing that feat in 1899 and 1903. John H. Taylor (1900), Lee Trevino (1971) and Gary Player (1974) also achieved wire-to-wire victories.
Since golf was first played at Carnoustie Golf Links in 1527, the course has undergone many changes. One of the major developments has been its lengthening. Although the Championship course is normally 6,941 yards, it was a record 7,421 yards for the 2007 Open Championship.