30th Open - Prestwick 1890
John Ball becomes the first amateur to win The Open
John Ball Jnr made history in 1890 at Prestwick by becoming the first Englishman to win The Open in its 30th staging, and also the first amateur. As a 16-year-old he had finished fourth in the 1878 Open but had played only once more before his victory. It was a result that was to start the evolution of The Open into a truly national, and eventually international, event. Two years later another English amateur, Harold Hilton at Muirfield, and two years later still The Open travelled south for the first time and JH Taylor became the first English professional to win at Sandwich.
Ball, from Hoylake, had won the second of eight Amateur Championships at his home course earlier in the year. Only Bobby Jones in 1930 has repeated the feat of winning the Amateur and The Open in the same season.
His victory was achieved against a strong field. He won by three strokes from Willie Fernie, the 1883 Champion, and Archie Simpson, who was runner-up for the second time. Andrew Kirkaldy, a three-time runner-up, was fourth alongside Willie Park Jnr, the Champion in two of the last three years.
Kirkaldy led after an opening 81 by one from his brother Hugh and Ball, and the Englishman added a second 82 for a total of 164. Andrew Kirkcaldy, with a 7 at the ninth and 5s at the next two holes, slumped to an 89 and Hugh to a 91, while Fernie and Simpson both matched Ball’s 82 and Park closed with an 80, the best round of The Championship. Ball had matching halves of 41 in each of his two rounds. Told Fernie’s total of 167 was the mark to beat, Ball needed to play the last four holes in 20 strokes but managed it comfortably with a 5, 4, 5, 4 finish.
|1||John BALL JR (A)||ENG||82||82||164|
|4||Willie PARK JR||SCO||90||80||170|
|6||Horace HUTCHINSON (A)||GBR||87||85||172|