It was at the 1901 Open at Muirfield that a new challenger emerged to the domination of Harry Vardon and JH Taylor.
The pair had won six of the previous seven Opens but James Braid beat both of them for the first of five titles in ten years. Such was the Fife-born golfer’s influence on the game that his name had to be bracketed along with the other two in the Great Triumvirate.
Braid was playing in The Open for the seventh time and had finished in the top-ten on every occasion, being runner-up in 1897 and finishing third in 1900. Braid’s great asset was his enormous length, enabling him to reach long holes that were well beyond the capabilities of most rivals.
He also had the ability to mix caution with a sudden audacious killer blow.His start was inauspicious, however, as he hooked his first drive in the first round over a wall and out of bounds.
And on his approach shot to the final hole of the last round, the shaft of his club splintered and the head flew off towards the clubhouse.
More importantly the ball sailed the 200 yards required to the green and he finished with a 4 to win by three strokes from Vardon, by four from Taylor and by 11 Harold Hilton, the amateur who won the first Open at Muirfield in 1892.
Vardon had led with a first-round of 77 and he and Braid were tied after the first day.
A 74 to a 79 in the third round opened up a five-shot lead for Braid and he played cautiously for a closing 80 and a total of 309.
A 6 at the 16th of his final round ruined any hopes Vardon still had of catching the new Champion.