43rd Open - Prestwick 1903
Vardon wins fourth Open
In 1903 Harry Vardon and his younger brother Tom, the professional at Royal St George’s, became the third set of brothers to finish first and second in The Open following Willie and David Park in 1866 and Hugh and Andrew Kirkaldy in 1891. Harry Vardon was hardly more encouraging to his brother than to anyone, however. He won for the second time at Prestwick by six strokes. It was his fourth Championship, matching the record of the two Morrises and Willie Park Snr. Vardon had collected them in eight years and this time posted a new record Championship score of 300, five strokes better than Harold Hilton at Muirfield in 1892.
Vardon got off to a fast start with a 73, which was equalled only by Sandy Herd. Then Herd had one of his characteristic poor rounds and shot 83. Vardon continued to set the pace despite a 7 at the 17th, where he was twice bunkered, and his 77 was good enough to give him a four-shot lead at the 36-hole mark ahead of Andrew Scott.
Vardon had not been in the best of health prior to The Open and doctors had advised him not to play. The exhaustion he was feeling on the second day seemed to drive him on. A record-equalling 72 in the third round gave him a seven-stroke lead over Jack White. In the final round, mainly playing safe and only carding one 6 at the 12th hole where he needed two strokes to get out of the rough, Vardon closed with a 78. Tom Vardon secured second place with a closing 74 to finish two ahead of White, with Herd fourth.
Shortly after The Open, Harry Vardon was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent many months recovering at Mundesley in Norfolk. It would be eight years before he won another Open.