Willie Fernie

Willie Fernie was the man who stopped Bob Ferguson matching Young Tommy Morris’s record of winning four Opens in a row.
  • He served as the club pro at Royal Troon for 37 years

    Did you know?

  • 4

    Open runner-up finishes

  • As a course designer he worked on St Andrews and Troon

    Fun fact

Willie Fernie was the man who stopped Bob Ferguson matching Young Tommy Morris’s record of winning four Opens in a row.

Originally from St Andrews, Fernie was then the greenkeeper at Dumfries and had finished runner-up to Ferguson the previous year at St Andrews. But The Open in 1883 was being staged at Musselburgh, Ferguson’s home links and where he had won the first of his three Open titles in 1880.

Fernie led after the first 18 holes but ran up a 10 at the second hole of the fourth nine-hole round. He still managed to tie with Ferguson and they play-off over another 36 holes the next day. This was the first play-off ever contested on The Open, since Davie Strath had refused to participate in 1876.

It was a tight affair, with Fernie a stroke up after 18 holes but at the last hole Ferguson led by one. He missed the green with his tee shot, however, while Fernie found it and then holed a long putt for a 2, while Ferguson took a 4.

The two-shot swing on the very last hole had handed Fernie the Claret Jug and denied Ferguson his four in a row. Fernie had a fine record in The Open, finishing runner-up on four occasions as well as his win.

He went on to be the professional at Felixstowe, among other courses, before settling at Troon, where he remained for many years. He was a good teacher and was involved with golf course design, helping to layout the original courses at Turnberry.

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