16th Open - St Andrews 1876
The play-off that never was
For the first time in 16 Opens two players tied on the same score. Bob Martin and Davie Strath both had rounds of 86 and then 90 for totals of 176. Willie Park Snr, despite a closing 89 finished in third place seven strokes behind. But there was no play-off because Strath, threatened with disqualification, refused to take part. Martin, a St Andrews caddie and assistant to Old Tom Morris, walked the course on his own and was declared the winner.
This was the second Open at St Andrews and took place during the Royal and Ancient’s Autumn Meeting when Prince Leopold, the fifth son of Queen Victoria, was installed as captain. Celebrations for the first royal visit to the town for 200 years included a ball and an evening of illuminations. The Open was pushed back to the Saturday when the Old Course was crowded with members playing their own games and huge crowds making for a chaotic scene.
At the 14th in the afternoon Strath pulled a shot towards the fifth fairway and hit an upholster by the name of Hutton on the head. Hutton was poleaxed yet soon recovered, but Strath was upset and started dropping shots. At the 17th, unbeknown to him due to the crush of people, his approach hit a player putting out on the green. The ball was stopped from going onto the road and he two-putted for a 5 but then took a 6 at the last to tie.
The Championship Committee considered calls for Strath to be disqualified for playing before the 17th green was clear, but ordered the play-off proceed on the Monday “under protest”. Strath objected that a decision should be made one way or the other prior to the play-off but was overruled and refused to participate.
|3||Willie PARK SR||SCO||94||89||183|
|4||Tom MORRIS SR||SCO||90||95||185|
|7||Henry LAMB (A)||GBR||94||92||186|