Tommy Morris Wins the Belt Outright
Eighteen players teed up for the 1870 Open Championship, played at Prestwick on Thursday, 15th September. There was a great sense of anticipation as the sunny, almost windless, day dawned because Tommy Morris was going for his third consecutive Open title. If he won, he would win the Challenge Belt outright. He was aware of this, the crowds were aware of this and the other players were aware. His father, Tom, had come close in 1863, when Willie Park denied him a hat-trick win by two strokes.
Tommy Morris was in excellent form in the weeks leading up to The Open, but few were prepared for the fireworks which occurred in the first round. Morris opened with a remarkable three at the 578 yard 1st hole. He followed this with a five at the 385 yard 2nd hole, a three at the 167 yard 3rd hole, a five at the 448 yard 4th hole, a six at the 440 yard 5th hole and a three at the 314 yard 6th hole. A pair of threes followed at the 7th and 8th holes, 144 and 166 yards respectively. He then took four strokes at the 395 yard 9th hole and three at the 213 yard 10th hole. He could only manage a four at the 132 yard 11th and he finished with a five at the 417 yard final hole. This added up to a record round of 47, which was two shots better than his previous record round in 1868. Morris now held a five shot lead over Bob Kirk and seven shots over Davie Strath.
Tommy opened his second round with a more conventional five at the 1st hole and went round in 51 strokes, holding a five stroke cushion over Strath, who scored a stunning 49 in his round. Morris played the final round in 51, despite a seven at the 4th. He finished on 149. Strath took 58 strokes for the third round to tie for second with Bob Kirk, both on 161.
Morris had won possession of the Championship Belt in true style. His round of 47 was a new single round record for The Open and his total of 149 set a new record aggregate total for The Open, which remained unbroken while the Championship was played over 36 holes.