History of The Open

The Open, sometimes referred to as The British Open, one of the world’s four major golf  tournaments—with the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Championship.

Best known outside the United States as the Open Championship or, simply, The Open, it has been held annually (with a few exceptions) on various courses in Scotland, England, and—on one occasion—Northern Ireland since 1860.

The first Open Championship was played on October 17, 1860, at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. A field of eight professionals played three rounds of Prestwick’s 12-hole course in one day. Willie Park, Sr., won the tournament and was presented with the Challenge Belt; a silver-buckled leather belt that each champion was to keep until the following Open.

In 1870 Tom Morris, Jr. won The Open for the third consecutive time and was thus allowed to keep the Challenge Belt permanently. As there was no award to present to the winner, The Open was not held again until 1872, when it was determined that the winning golfer would receive the Golf Champion Trophy, now commonly known as the Claret Jug. In 1892 the Open became a 72-hole event (four rounds of 18 holes), and in 1898 a cut (reduction of the field) was introduced after the first two rounds of play.

In 1995 The Open became part of the PGA Tour’s official schedule. American John Daly won that year after a play-off with Italy’s Costantino Rocca, beginning another period of American supremacy at The Open in which 10 of the next 13 winners hailed from the United States, including Tiger Woods, who won three championships (2000, 2005–06).