39th Open - Royal St George's 1899
Vardon captures his third Open title
With a third victory in four years at Royal St George’s, Harry Vardon became the first three-time Open Champion since Bob Ferguson in 1882. The Jersey man also edged in front of his great rival JH Taylor, who still had two victories. The pair had won five of the last six Opens and were beginning to dominate, though James Braid would soon join what would become the Great Triumvirate. Vardon showed here, however, that at his best no one could keep pace with him.
Having won his previous two Opens by rallying in the final round, Vardon won the 1899 Championship from the front. He was the first player since the event was extended to 72 holes to lead, or share the lead, after every round. James Kinnell and Tom Wilkinson matched Vardon’s opening 76 but, of the three, only Vardon produced another in the afternoon, with an outward 33 that contained nothing more than a 4. Taylor, the winner of the first Open at Sandwich in 1894, also had a 76 to be just one behind at the halfway stage. So difficult were conditions on the first day that of the record 98 starting field, only 36 played the next day.
Taylor could not keep up with his friend on the second day. Scores of 83 and 84 left him in fourth place. Vardon had an 81 on the second morning but now led Taylor by three and was seven ahead of anyone else. He closed with a 77 to finish on a total of 310, 16 strokes better than Taylor’s winning score in 1894. Vardon won by five from Jack White, who grabbed second place with a 75, four ahead of Andrew Kirkaldy, who closed with a 77. Braid and 1883 Champion Willie Fernie shared fifth place.
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