Great Open Champions

Who is the greatest Open Champion? Our unparalleled collection of Open memorabilia dates back to the very origins of the competition in 1860, when eight players competed over three rounds of Prestwick’s 12 hole course. For over 150 years, the story of The Open has been one of nerve, skill, tears and drama. All of this is presented in our vast Open collections, which will stir memories of stunning shots and winning putts.

Since 1860, when Willie Park Senior of Musselburgh beat favourite Old Tom Morris, golf’s oldest Major has thrown up a catalogue of memorable winners.  Some, who dominated the game, have forever left their mark on the Championship; names such as Harry Vardon, who won an unbeaten six times and his contemporaries James Braid and J.H. Taylor, who each won the title five times.

Challengers since include five-time winner Peter Thomson and Tom Watson, who so painfully lost his chance of a sixth victory at Turnberry in 2009.

Not forgotten are the amateurs who defeated their professional rivals – the first Englishman to win The Open, John Ball, in 1890, Harold Hilton in 1892 and 1897, and the great three-time winner Bobby Jones.

In the post-War era, iconic golfers such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods revived and championed The Open. 

The Championship remains truly open to all and there is always much speculation as to whose name will next be engraved on the coveted Claret Jug.

(1) Willie Park Senior, first Open Champion (2) The Claret Jug (3) Ball used by Tom Watson in 1977

Did you know?

When leading amateur Horace Hutchinson was asked for his view on the proposed Ladies Golf Union, he remarked: “[Ladies] …will never go through one championship with credit…constitutionally and physically women are unfitted for golf”. He was soon regretting his words. In 1891 there were 44 ladies clubs and by 1909 there were over 470.