The 1860 Open Championship was a golf competition held on this day 159 years ago at Prestwick in Ayrshire, Scotland. The inaugural event was contested on the 12 hole Prestwick Golf Course over thirty-six holes on a single day.
Until his death in 1859, Allan Robertson was regarded as top golfer in the world. The 1st Open Championship was to grant his successor.
The Open Championship Was Won by Willie Park Sr. Over Old Tom Morris
James Ogilvie Fairlie was the principal organizer of this inaugural Open Championship.
In a proposed competition for a “Challenge Belt”, Fairlie sent out a series of letters to Blackheath, Perth, Edinburgh, Musselburgh and St. Andrews, inviting a player known as a “respectable caddie” to represent each of the clubs in a tournament to be held on 17 October 1860.
There were eight men who were in the first Open Championship. The pairings were:
- Tom Morris, Sr. (Prestwick) and Robert Andrew (Perth)
- Willie Park Sr. (Musselburgh) and Alexander Smith (Bruntsfield)
- William Steel (Bruntsfield) and Charlie Hunter (Prestwick St Nicholas)
- George Daniel Brown (Blackheath) and Andrew Strath (St Andrews)
The 1st Open Championship
Willie Park got out to the best start over the first 12 holes with a 55 while Old Tom Morris was three behind with a 58. On the next 12 holes they were neck and neck and finished even. Morris and Park both earned 59’s which still meant Park had the lead.
On the final third it was an outright battle between the two men. Although Old Tom Morris bested Willie Park Sr. on the final twelve holes by a stroke it wasn’t enough to win.
Willie Park Sr. would go on to win by a stroke thanks to a fantastic opening round of 55.
That wasn’t the end of the event or Tom Morris. Old Tom Morris would go on to win it the next two years.
The Open Championship is still proud today and is one of the most popular golf tournaments on the planet.
Over the early stages of the event, Tom Morris and his son Young Tom Morris won it eight times. It’s considered one of the four majors and was won in 2016 by Henrik Stenson with a record score of 20 under par.