Bob Ferguson successfully defended his title by winning at Prestwick in 1881 but had to survive in the most severe gales to do so.
He won by three strokes from Jamie Anderson, who had won a third Open in a row in 1879 but not played when Ferguson won for the first time the following year. An October storm was the cause of the vile conditions, which included a gale-force wind, rain, sleet and snow. Almost 200 fishermen lost their lives at sea that day.
Play was delayed for an hour and a half while sufficient markers were found to accompany the 22 players who elected to take part. Only eight of them finished, six of them either past or future Open Champions.
Ferguson total of 170 was the highest at Prestwick since the same score was posted by Old Tom Morris in 1867, while the only total higher was Willie Park Snr’s 174 in the inaugural Open in 1860.
Ferguson was also 13 strokes worse than Anderson’s total three years earlier at Prestwick, not to mention 21 strokes higher than Young Tommy Morris’s record of 149 in 1870.
Having won a tournament at Hoylake in the summer, Ferguson was in fine form and opened with a 53 that gave him a four-stroke lead over Anderson and Bob Martin.
A 60 in the second round kept him four ahead of Anderson but only three in front of Willie Campbell, who had a 56. In the final 12-hole round of the day, Ferguson closed with a 57, Anderson only gaining one stroke with a 56.
Campbell slumped to a 65 to fall behind Ned Cosgrove in third and Martin in fourth, and tie Old Tom Morris and Willie Park Jnr in fifth place. Willie Fernie was the eighth and last of the finishers.