Bob Martin became the first player to win two Opens at St Andrews, a feat that has been matched since by only by some of the game’s greatest players in JH Taylor, James Braid, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Martin was a St Andrews caddie who worked with Old Tom Morris in his clubmaking business. His victory in 1876 was controversial because he was given a walk-over in the play-off when Davie Strath refused to participate.
Strath was under the threat of disqualification for an incident during regulation play and objected when the Championship Committee postponed a decision until after the play-off.
Nine years later and Martin’s victory was not tainted in any way, even if he finished with a narrow advantage of only one stroke over Archie Simpson, brother of the defending Champion Jack. Archie Simpson led after a first round of 83, to Martin’s 84, but in ever-strengthening winds, Martin recorded an 87 in the afternoon to Simpson’s 89.
Having played his usual steady and careful game, the Champion was loudly applauded down the 18th fairway as he secured the 5 he needed to win outright. Martin’s total of 171 was five strokes better than his tally in 1876 but two strokes outside that of 1879 winner on the Old Course, Jamie Anderson.
Neither of the last two St Andrews Champions, Anderson and Bob Ferguson, competed.
David Ayton finished in third place, one stroke behind, but was left ruing an 11 at the 17th when he twice had to play from the road behind the green.
The 1883 winner Willie Fernie, future Champion Willie Park Jnr and Archie’s brother Bob all finished a further stroke back.