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The 151st Open

Royal Liverpool's Champion Golfers

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Amateur stars, history makers and modern-day giants

Roberto De Vicenzo lifts the Claret Jug after winning The Open in 1967

Royal Liverpool will host The Open for the 13th time in 2023, nine years on from its most recent staging of the Championship.

The venue’s 12 previous Opens have delivered a dozen different Champion Golfers, with many of them claiming wins of huge historical significance.

Ahead of The 151st Open, we look at the players to have lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake.

 

1897 | The 37th Open

Champion Golfer: Harold Hilton

Royal Liverpool’s first Open provided reason for celebration, particularly when Hoylake member Harold Hilton emerged victorious.

Hilton had already followed the lead of John Ball Jnr – The Open’s first amateur Champion Golfer in 1890 – by triumphing at Muirfield in The 32nd Open.

Five years later, the Merseysider came from three shots behind in the final round to edge out James Braid by one.

Hilton would go on to build on his Open successes with four victories in The Amateur Championship, before enjoying further success as a golf writer and course designer.

Harold Hilton, who won The Open in 1892 and 1897

1902 | The 42nd Open

Champion Golfer: Sandy Herd

One of the most prolific competitors in The Open’s long history, whose first and last appearances in the Championship came an extraordinary 48 years apart, Sandy Herd enjoyed his finest hour at Royal Liverpool in 1902.

Herd had already been a runner-up on two occasions when he produced the performance of his life to hold off two members of the Great Triumvirate in Braid and Harry Vardon.

As had been the case in 1897, Braid had a putt on the final green to tie the lead and force a play-off, but the man who ended his career as a five-time Champion Golfer could not convert.

Herd went on to finish second on two further occasions, incredibly achieving the feat for the final time in 1920 at the age of 52.

 

1907 | The 47th Open

Champion Golfer: Arnaud Massy

One of The Open’s most notable victories came at Hoylake in 1907 when France’s Arnaud Massy became the first overseas Champion Golfer.

A former sardine fisherman from Biarritz, Massy had finished 10th on his Open debut at Royal Liverpool in 1902.

Five years on from that encouraging maiden performance, Massy proved the class of the field in windy conditions on England’s north-west coast.

He went into the final round trailing the imposing figure of J.H. Taylor by one, but ultimately triumphed by two and made history thanks to a closing 77.

Arnaud Massy, the Champion Golfer of 1907

The significance of Massy’s triumph could not be underestimated. It would take a further 72 years for another man from Continental Europe to secure the Claret Jug, as Seve Ballesteros claimed the first of his three titles.

 

1913 | The 53rd Open

Champion Golfer: J.H. Taylor

Having been denied by Massy in 1907, Taylor cantered to victory at Royal Liverpool six years later to earn his fifth and final Open crown.

Each of Taylor’s successes in golf’s original Championship came by wide margins, but this equalled his most emphatic win as he finished eight shots clear of his nearest rival, the defending Champion Ted Ray.

Taylor considered it his finest performance. He was three clear with 18 holes to play and duly extended his advantage in a final round blighted by poor weather.

 

1924 | The 59th Open

Champion Golfer: Walter Hagen

With the exception of Massy, The Open had produced exclusively British Champions prior to World War I. However, the 1920s brought a flurry of American triumphs, with Walter Hagen enjoying particular success.

The second of Hagen’s four victories in the decade came at Royal Liverpool in 1924, as he held his nerve to pip Ernest Whitcombe by a single shot.

Walter Hagen in action at Troon in 1923

Playing about an hour behind Whitcombe in the final round after both men had shared the lead through 54 holes, Hagen had a six-foot putt on the last to secure the Claret Jug.

He found his target in almost casual fashion, surprising observers with the lack of time he took and prompting questions over whether he knew exactly what was at stake.

"Sure, I knew,” said Hagen. “But no man ever beat me in a play-off." Not true, but a great line nonetheless from the charismatic Champion.

 

1930 | The 65th Open

Champion Golfer: Bobby Jones

A second amateur victory at Royal Liverpool – and the most recent success by a non-professional in The Open – came courtesy of Bobby Jones in the iconic American’s greatest year.

In addition to finishing top of the pile at The Open in 1930, Jones also won The Amateur Championship, US Open and US Amateur Championship to complete an unprecedented Grand Slam of the era’s majors.

Success at Hoylake represented the second leg of that clean sweep, with Jones sharing the lead after rounds one and two before overcoming a one-shot deficit over the final 18.

A total of 291 proved enough to beat Leo Diegel and Macdonald Smith by two.

Three-time Champion Golfer Bobby Jones

1936 | The 71st Open

Champion Golfer: Alf Padgham

No one could say Alf Padgham’s victory in 1936 came out of the blue.

The Englishman had finished fourth in 1932, third in 1934 and second in 1935 prior to The Open returning to Royal Liverpool in 1936.

Another near miss looked like it could be on the cards when Padgham trailed by one after rounds two and three of The 71st Open.

Yet a closing 71 saw Padgham claim glory at last, beating Jimmy Adams by one and Sir Henry Cotton and Marcel Dallemagne by two.

 

1947 | The 76th Open

Champion Golfer: Fred Daly

Royal Liverpool played host to another trailblazing triumph in 1947.

Fred Daly became the first Champion Golfer of the Year from the island of Ireland, the man from Portrush prevailing on an absorbing final day.

Fred Daly Champion Golfer 1947

Daly was one of four leaders heading into the final round, along with Cotton, Arthur Lees and Norman von Nida.

A closing 72 put Daly one ahead of Reg Horne and, with Cotton, Lees and Von Nida all recording 76s, Frank Stranahan was the only man who could realistically catch the leader down the stretch.

The American amateur came agonisingly close to holing a 9-iron on the last that would have forced a play-off, but Stranahan had to settle for a share of second with Horne as Daly claimed a popular victory.

 

1956 | The 85th Open

Champion Golfer: Peter Thomson

Yet more history was made at Hoylake in 1956 as the great Peter Thomson achieved a feat that remains unmatched to this day.

Young Tom Morris won four Opens in a row in the early days of the Championship before Jamie Anderson and Bob Ferguson each triumphed in three successive years.

However, Thomson is the only man to have claimed three consecutive victories since The Open became a 72-hole event.

Thomson had won his first title by one stroke, his second by two and now his third by three from Belgium’s Flory van Donck.

After successive rounds of 70 to begin The 85th Open, Thomson extended his lead with a third-round 72 before retaining his cushion with a closing 74. Further victories would follow for the Australian in 1958 and 1965. Only Vardon has won The Open on more occasions.

Peter Thomson Champion Golfer 1956

1967 | The 96th Open

Champion Golfer: Roberto De Vicenzo

Few victories at The Open can have been more popular than Roberto De Vicenzo’s at Royal Liverpool in 1967.

An affable Argentinian with a love for links golf, De Vicenzo enjoyed a hugely promising start to his Open career, finishing third in 1948 and 1949 prior to a runner-up placing in 1950.

Five further top-six finishes followed in half a dozen appearances between 1953 and 1965, with De Vicenzo’s visits to the United Kingdom invariably resulting in strong challenges for the Claret Jug.

His moment of glory finally arrived 19 years on from his Open debut at the age of 44, as De Vicenzo got the better of defending Champion Jack Nicklaus to delight the Hoylake crowds.

He had become the second-oldest Champion Golfer in history, behind Old Tom Morris. It was truly a victory worth waiting for.

 

2006 | The 135th Open

Champion Golfer: Tiger Woods

When The Open returned to Royal Liverpool in 2006 after a 39-year absence, the world’s best golfer proved a fitting Champion.

Tiger Woods had already lifted the Claret Jug at St Andrews on two occasions, in 2000 and 2005, and produced another links masterclass to defend his title and join the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Sir Nick Faldo as a three-time Champion Golfer of the Year.

A summer heatwave meant a fast-running links that was a brown in colour. Woods decided he had no need of a driver, using it only once, missing the fairway at the par-5 16th in the first round but still making a birdie.

Chris DiMarco applied the most pressure to the world number one, but Woods won by two to secure a hugely emotional victory, just two months on from the death of his father and mentor, Earl.

 

2014 | The 143rd Open

Champion Golfer: Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has finished fifth, fourth, third (on two occasions) and second in The Open, but he was not to be denied in 2014 as he thrilled the Royal Liverpool crowd by securing the Claret Jug.

McIlroy not only won, but went wire to wire at Hoylake. Having surged into the lead with back-to-back scores of 66, he moved six clear with a third-round 68.

Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler played strongly to cut McIlroy’s advantage, yet the Northern Irishman held firm and a steady 71 on the final day confirmed his third major title, to be swiftly followed by a fourth at the following month’s PGA Championship.

“It wasn’t easy. There were a few guys who were making a run at me so I had to stay focused and get the job done,” said McIlroy, who was cruelly denied the chance to defend his title at St Andrews 12 months later as he picked up an injury.

After contending so strongly in The 150th Open, McIlroy will now hope a return to Royal Liverpool can result in a second victory in golf’s original Championship.

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