Claret Jug goes missing after win by Bobby Jones
The victory by American amateur Bobby Jones in the 1927 Open at St Andrews was greeted with wild enthusiasm and he was carried shoulder high through a crowd of 20,000 to the door of his hotel.
When he returned a few minutes later for the prize presentation he made a gracious acceptance speech in which he said: “I had rather win a championship at St Andrews than anything else that could happen to me. You have done so many things for me that I am embarrassed to ask one more, but I will. I want this wonderful old club to accept the custody of the cup for the coming year.”
Within minutes the grand gesture had turned sour. The trophy had vanished. Club officials hunted high and low. Police were called and roadblocks set up on the outskirts of the town in an effort to prevent the villains getting away with their priceless haul. But the silver Claret Jug had seemingly disappeared into thin air.
Early the next morning a member of the Old Course greenkeeping staff saw the slanting sunlight gleaming on something beneath a bench close to The Royal and Ancient clubhouse. Within minutes the old trophy was safely returned.
Many years later two local golfers admitted that as a pair of daredevil seven-year-olds they had simply lifted the trophy from the windowsill where it had been placed and scampered around the corner. Realising the enormity of what they had done, they slipped it beneath a bench and ran off.
It was after this incident that a replica of the trophy was made and presented each year, allowing the original to remain in the safe confines of the clubhouse. Yet in 1983 at Royal Birkdale it was discovered that the identical trophies had been transposed and Tom Watson had been presented with the one dating back to the early days of the championship in the 1870s.