Jack Burns won the 1888 Open at St Andrews in highly unusual circumstances. Burns thought he had tied on 172 with Ben Sayers and Davie Anderson.
A play-off the following Monday was expected when a member of the Royal and Ancient who was scrutinising the scorecards realised that Burns had not had an outward half of 47 in the morning round, as stated on his card, but 46.
Since it was only the addition that was at fault, and all the figures for each hole were correct, the player’s score was amended. His opening 86, combined with a closing 85, gave Burns a total of 171 and, in an announcement to the crowd from Tom Morris’s golf shop, he was declared the winner.
Though Burns hailed from St Andrews, he only played in The Open intermittently and at the time of his victory he was the professional at the Warwick Golf Club in England.
He was described as a “strapping young fellow” and was a big-hitter but on a day when the wind was blowing from the northwest his long game and his putting were top notch.
Although Anderson, the brother of former three-time Champion Jamie, in the first round became the first player to break 40 on the inward half, it was Burns’s outward 42 in the afternoon round that proved decisive.
Anderson was out in 45 and Sayers, the diminutive clubmaker from North Berwick who played in The Open from 1878 to 1914, was out in 46. All three men had a 6 at the 17th hole but Anderson closed with an 86 and Sayers an 87.
Willie Campbell was fourth, after rounds of 84 and 90, while amateur Leslie Balfour Melville was fifth. Andrew Kirkaldy tied for sixth place and Willie Park Jnr, between his two victories, was 11th.