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History of The Open

Tom Kidd


The first Champion presented with the Claret Jug

The Claret Jug at St Andrews

Many golf fans may not be familiar with Tom Kidd, but the Scot occupies a very special place in the illustrious history of The Open.

On October 4th, 1873, Kidd triumphed in The 13th Open. In doing so, he became the first player to win the Championship at St Andrews and the first Champion Golfer to be presented with the famous Claret Jug.

For the first 11 editions of The Open, all held at Prestwick, the Champion had received the Challenge Belt, but Young Tom Morris claimed this prize as his own when he recorded a third successive victory in 1870.

There was no Championship the following year, but a new trophy was settled upon in September 1872 when Prestwick, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Musselburgh and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews agreed to share the organising and staging of The Open.

The Claret Jug, a silver pitcher made by Mackay Cunningham & Co in Edinburgh, was not ready in time for The 12th Open in 1872, when Young Tom Morris recorded his fourth consecutive victory at Prestwick.

However, when St Andrews took on hosting duties for the first time in 1873, the iconic trophy – inscribed with Young Tom’s name against the previous year – was presented to the Champion.

Kidd, a St Andrews caddie, was the man to secure the silverware following a 36-hole Championship played in hugely challenging conditions.

Days of torrential rain had left the Old Course almost unplayable, with countless pools of standing water.

As a result of the saturated course, a rule was created that dictated a submerged ball could be moved to a drier spot, no nearer the hole, but at the cost of a penalty stroke.

Scoring was understandably high, with Kidd, Jamie Anderson and Bob Kirk all shooting 91 in the morning’s first round to claim the lead.

Kidd then seized control of the Championship with a superb outward nine in the afternoon and, although he found the homeward stretch tougher, he pipped Anderson by one shot with an aggregate total of 179.

Anderson would go on to enjoy tremendous success in The Open, winning in three successive years from 1877, but Kidd will always be the first Champion presented with the Claret Jug.