The first of Braid’s five titles
The dominance of J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon, who had won six of the previous seven Open Championships between them, was finally challenged by Fife-born James Braid at Muirfield in 1901. He was to win five times in a 10-year period and become the third member of what became known as The Great Triumvirate. Braid’s great asset was his enormous length, enabling him to reach long holes that were well beyond the capabilities of most rivals. He also had the ability to mix caution with a sudden audacious killer blow.
With one round to play he was five shots clear of Vardon, with Taylor two further shots behind. With such a clear margin he played over-cautiously for a final round of 80 and a total of 309, breaking the shaft of his cleek as he played his approach to the final green. Vardon had a chance to tie if he could play the last three holes in level fours, but at the 16th he badly miss-hit into a bunker and took six, finally finishing three shots behind Braid, with Taylor in third place on 313.
There was then a seven-shot gap to fourth-placed Harold Hilton, the amateur who had won the first Muirfield Open nine years earlier.