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British Open winners: Full list, scores and prizes won

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    The British Open is the oldest tournament of its kind and is often referred to as golf’s original major. Since 1995, the Open has been a part of the PGA Tour’s official schedule. The tournament is always played on the third weekend in July. For decades, the soggy English and Scottish summer weather and occasional wind gusts have tested the driving and putting games of the world’s best golfers.

    One interesting fact is that in the official literature at no point has the championship been referred to as the British Open. Officially the tournament is called the Open—but unofficially, the British Open is how it’s referred to in the media and sporting world.

    How the British Open began

    The Open was first played on October 17, 1860 in Scotland--the birthplace of the game. The inaugural course was the Prestwick Golf Club, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Glasgow. For this reason, Prestwick is known as the birthplace of the Open.

    In that first tournament, eight professional golfers competed for the prize of a red Morocco leather belt with silver clasps and a silver belt buckle. The winner got to keep the belt until the following year. After many years the worn belt would be replaced by a new prize--the now iconic silver Claret Jug trophy, first awarded in 1873. The jug weighs in over 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms) and is 20.87 inches (53 centimeters) tall.

    A cash purse of 10 pounds was also introduced in subsequent years for the winner and the top four finishers in the field—and it’s been growing almost every year since. The 2023 purse was a record $16.5 million.

    Both professional and amateur players were invited to the second open, in 1861, but over time the professionals predictably dominated the competition. The last amateur to win the tournament was golf legend Bobby Jones, in 1930.

    Where is the British Open played?

    The first 12 Open championships were held jointly with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, with play alternating between Prestwick, Musselburgh Links, and St. Andrews. Incidentally, Musselburgh Links is often referred to as the oldest continuously operating golf course in the world, with recorded play stretching back to the 17th century.

    There are nine courses that have traditionally rotated as hosts of the Open (in alphabetical order):

    • The Old Course at St. Andrews
    • Royal Birkdale Golf Club
    • Carnoustie Golf Links
    • Royal St. George’s Golf Club
    • Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s Golf Club
    • Royal Liverpool Golf Club
    • Muirfield
    • Royal Troon

    Only Prestwick has hosted more Open tournaments than St. Andrews, with the tournament undergoing a hiatus in 1871, for the two World Wars (1915-1919, 1940-1945) and most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

    Notable British Open winners

    The first winner of the Open at Prestwick was Willie Park, who shot 174 over three rounds at the then 12-hole course. Park would go on to win three more Open titles to make it four championships. In 1892, the field of professional and amateur players was expanded so that 72 holes were played over two days.

    Tom Morris Sr and his son Tom Morris Jr both won four titles—the only father and son winners on the Open champions list. Old Tom was the resident golf professional and groundskeeper at Prestwick. His son Tom Morris Jr commonly referred to as Young Tom notably won his first as a golf prodigy at age 17—still the youngest Open champion of all time. After claiming four Open titles, Young Tom tragically died on Christmas Day 1875, at the age of 24.

    Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros set the record for the youngest international player to win the Open, winning the title at age 22 back in 1979. South Africa’s Gary Player set a record for longevity of play that’s unlikely to ever be exceeded, with 46 all-time appearances (he played in 52 Masters tournaments at Augusta), winning the Open in 1959, 1968 and 1974.

    Who has won the British Open the most?

    Harry Vardon won the most Open tournaments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, winning six times from 1896 to 1914. The Englishman won back-to-back titles in 1898 and 1899.

    Four men have won the title five times—this elect company of champions includes Peter Thomson, JH Taylor, James Braid, and Tom Watson, with Watson as the most recent five-time Open winner. He closed out his Open championship streak with back-to-back titles in 1982--when Watson was the PGA player of the year--and 1983. In 1999, Watson became one of five Americans inducted as an honorary member at St. Andrews, joining Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and former President George H.W. Bush.

    The legendary Bobby Jones, who co-founded Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters major championship in the 1930s, remains a touchstone of American titles won at the Open. Jones won it back-to-back in 1926, 1927, with his last title in 1930—when he achieved an unmatched Grand Slam of four major championships in the same calendar year.

    What Americans have won the British Open?

    In 1922 Walter Hagen became the first U.S.-born player to win the Open. A flamboyant New Yorker from humble origins, Hagen had played baseball before switching to professional golf. Hagen became one of the first professional golfers to endorse golf equipment during the1920s. He had an on-course rivalry with Bobby Jones and an off-course friendship with the fellow golf legend. Hagen finished his career with 11 major titles and 45 PGA tour victories. He also played a major part in establishing the annual Ryder Cup competition between the best golfers in the USA and the best in Europe.

    Tom Watson has the most titles of any American at the Open, with five championships. In 1977 Watson famously won the ‘Duel in the Sun’ at Turnberry to outlast his rival Jack Nicklaus by one stroke. The one that got away for Watson would’ve made him the oldest winner of the Open in 2009 at the age of 59, but he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

    Nicknamed the Golden Bear by an Australian sportswriter, Jack Nicklaus has been among the most consistent American golfers to ever play the Open, winning two of his 18 major titles at St. Andrews. Nicklaus has also been a runner-up at the Open a record seven times, with 11 straight top-five finishes from 1970 to 1980, placing in the top 10 a record 18 times.

    Tiger Woods has won three titles, winning his first in 2000 as part of his famous “Tiger Slam,” with back-to-back wins in 2005 and 2006. An emotional win for Woods in 2006 came just two months after his father Earl Woods passed away.

    Phil Mickelson famously has won the Open just once, with two top-10 finishes during his 20 appearances to date (2023) in the tournament.

    Georgia native Brian Harman hoisted the Claret Jug trophy and took home the $3 million top prize in 2023. Harman’s winnings represented 18% of the $14 million purse. Harman won by six strokes over four runner ups in Jon Rahm, Sepp Straka, Tom Kim and Jason Day, who won $1,084,625 each.

    The full list of British Open winners

    The following is a list from the past 30 years of Open winners, their country of origin, the winning score, and cash prize taken home by the winner, along with the venue where they won:


    • Champion: Brian Harman, USA
    • Score (to Par): 217 (-13)
    • Winner’s Prize: $3 million
    • Venue: Royal Liverpool Hoylake


    • Champion: Cameron Smith, Australia
    • Score (to Par): 268 (-20)
    • Winner’s Prize: $2.5 million
    • Venue: St. Andrews


    • Champion: Collin Morikawa, USA
    • Score (to Par): 265 (-15)
    • Winner’s Prize: $2.07 million
    • Venue: Royal St. George’s

    2020 No championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic


    • Champion: Shane Lowry, Ireland
    • Score (to Par): 269 (-15)
    • Winner’s Prize: $1.935 million
    • Venue: Royal Portrush


    • Champion: Francesco Molinari, Italy
    • Score (to Par): 276 (-8)
    • Winner’s Prize: $1.890 million
    • Venue: Carnoustie


    • Champion: Jordan Spieth, USA
    • Score (to Par): 268 (-12)
    • Winner’s Prize: $1.845 million
    • Venue: Royal Birkdale


    • Champion: Henrik Stenson, Sweden
    • Score (to Par): 264 (-20)
    • Winner’s Prize: £1.175 million
    • Venue: Royal Troon


    • Champion: Zach Johnson, USA
    • Score (to Par): 273
    • Winner’s Prize: £1.150 million
    • Venue: St. Andrews


    • Champion: Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland
    • Score (to Par): 271 (-17)
    • Winner’s Prize: £975,000
    • Venue: Royal Liverpool (Holyoke)


    • Champion: Phil Mickelson, USA
    • Score (to Par): 281 (-3)
    • Winner’s Prize: £945,000
    • Venue: Muirfield


    • Champion: Ernie Els, South Africa
    • Score (to Par): 273 (-7)
    • Winner’s Prize: £900,000
    • Venue: Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s


    • Champion: Darren Clarke, Northern Ireland
    • Score (to Par): 275 (-5)
    • Winner’s Prize: £900,000
    • Venue: Royal St. George’s


    • Champion: Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa
    • Score (to Par): 272 (-16)
    • Winner’s Prize: £850,000
    • Venue: St. Andrews


    • Champion: Stewart Cink, USA
    • Score (to Par): 278 (-2) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £750,000
    • Venue: Turnberry


    • Champion: Padraig Harrington, Ireland
    • Score (to Par): 283 (+3)
    • Winner’s Prize: £750,000
    • Venue: Royal Birkdale


    • Champion: Padraig Harrington, Ireland
    • Score (to Par): 277 (-7) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £750,000
    • Venue: Carnoustie


    • Champion: Tiger Woods, USA
    • Score (to Par): 270 (-18)
    • Winner’s Prize: £720,000
    • Venue: Royal Liverpool


    • Champion: Tiger Woods, USA
    • Score (to Par): 274 (-14)
    • Winner’s Prize: £720,000
    • Venue: St. Andrews


    • Champion: Todd Hamilton, USA
    • Score (to Par): 274 (-10) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £720,000
    • Venue: Royal Troon


    • Champion: Ben Curtis, USA
    • Score (to Par): 283 (-1)
    • Winner’s Prize: £700,000
    • Venue: Royal St. George’s


    • Champion: Ernie Els, South Africa
    • Score (to Par): 278 (-6) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £700,000
    • Venue: Muirfield


    • Champion: David Duval, USA
    • Score (to Par): 274 (-10)
    • Winner’s Prize: £600,000
    • Venue: Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s


    • Champion: Tiger Woods, USA
    • Score (to Par): 269 (-19)
    • Winner’s Prize: £500,000
    • Venue: St. Andrews


    • Champion: Paul Lawrie, Scotland
    • Score (to Par): 290 (+6) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £350,000
    • Venue: Carnoustie


    • Champion: Mark O’Meara, USA
    • Score (to Par): 280 (E) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £300,000
    • Venue: Royal Birkdale


    • Champion: Justin Leonard, USA
    • Score (to Par): 272 (-12)
    • Winner’s Prize: £250,000
    • Venue: Royal Troon


    • Champion: Tom Lehman, USA
    • Score (to Par): 271 (-13)
    • Winner’s Prize: £200,000
    • Venue: Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s


    • Champion: John Daly, USA
    • Score (to Par): 282 (-6) PO
    • Winner’s Prize: £125,000
    • Venue: St. Andrews


    • Champion: Nick Price, Zimbabwe
    • Score (to Par): 268 (-12)
    • Winner’s Prize: £110,000
    • Venue: Turnberry


    • Champion: Greg Norman, Australia
    • Score (to Par): 267 (-13)
    • Winner’s Prize: £100,000
    • Venue: Royal St. George’s

    For a full list of Open winners, prizes and course venues click here.
    (External link by: Perry Golf)

    Back-to-back American winners of the Open

    Due to its difficulty and fierce level of competition, the Open has witnessed many one-time winners. To date, only six American players have won back-to-back British Opens:

    • Friends and rivals Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones did it in the 1920s
    • Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino won repeat titles in the early 1960s and 1970s respectively
    • After outdueling Jack Nicklaus in 1977, Tom Watson dominated the Open in the early 1980s and narrowly missed on becoming the oldest player to win the Open in 2009
    • Tiger Woods claimed his own back-to-back titles in the mid-2000s.

    Looking Ahead to the 2024, 2025 and 2026 seasons

    Can 2023 winner Brian Harman or another American repeat during the next three seasons? We will see starting in 2024. The Open will be hosted at Scotland’s Royal Troon in 2024, the previously mentioned Northern Ireland course Royal Portrush in 2025 and northwest coastal England’s Royal Birkdale in 2026.

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