The Open Championship
The Open Championship – or the British Open or just ‘The Open‘ if you prefer – is the oldest and, many would argue, most prestigious of the four Majors in golf.
It’s been won three times each by such golfing legends as Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods, with Tom Watson (among others) landing it five times and Harry Vardon of Jersey winning it an astounding six times between 1896 and 1914.
Here we give you a brief history of this most alluring of golf tournaments, along with the latest betting offers, tips and Open news to help you get the edge when pitting your wits against the bookies – as well as hundreds of pounds of free bets too!
The Open Betting Offers, Tips & News
The Open Championship Tips and Betting Offers, Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, Thursday 20th July 2017
Welcome to the biggest week of the year in British golf. The world’s best players have all assembled at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport for the third major of the year, the Open.
The Open is the oldest of golf’s four major championships and is always held on links golf courses to try and replicate the style of golf that was played when the game was first invented in Scotland in the 15th century. The combination of history and world class talent always provides entertaining tournaments and this year’s renewal is shaping up to be an absolute cracker.
Henrik Stenson won last year’s Open after a stunning final day battle with Phil Mickelson. The two men finishes streaks ahead of the competition in the sun at Royal Troon but the early weather forecasts suggests something completely different 12 months on. The wind is set to get stronger day by day leaving the potential for terrible golfing conditions come Sunday.
As anybody who watched the 2008 Open will know, Royal Birkdale is a significantly tougher test when the wind gets up. Padraig Harrington’s win that year is the only time the Open’s been won with a score over par this century but don’t be surprised if somewhere around par gets the job done this time.
Many players in the field this week will be hoping that the forecasts are wrong. Some, however, are confident enough about their ability to control ball flights and cope with a links challenge that they’d welcome blustery winds. That’s especially true of those players who warmed with up an appearance at the Irish or Scottish Opens held on the European Tour over the past fortnight.
The defending champion is one of those who took full advantage of last week’s tournament at Dundonald Links. With two rounds in the 60s, Stenson was able to finish in a tie for 26th. While that doesn’t look like top class links form, the same can be said of his tie for 13th at the same tournament last year. In fact, previous results show that it’s not necessary to play well at the Scottish Open the week before the Open, simply getting competitive links golf under your belt is advantageous.
If you take a longer term view it’s clear that Stenson’s best golf is starting to return to him after a tough year since winning at Troon. He is now injury free, he’s confident and he’s got the game to cope with tough conditions so the 33/1 that Coral are quoting about his chances looks too good to ignore.
Andy Sullivan is another player who coped well with the wind in Scotland last week. Like Stenson, this has been a challenging 12 months for Sullivan but recent performances have seen the smile return to his face. In just two Open appearances Sullivan’s finished 30th at 12th. He clearly enjoys links golf and can cause a betting upset at 100/1 with Betfred.
British Open History
The Open, to use its official title, has a long and rich history and as one of the four major championships (along, of course, with the Masters, US Open and USPGA) is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world.
Whether you call it the British Open, The Open or The Open Championship, Britain’s biggest golf event dates all the way back to 1860. Given the US Masters was only created in 1934 that gives you an idea of just how old the British Open is, indeed it predates the second oldest Major, the US Open, by a good 35 years.
Back in 1860 just eight professionals took to Prestwick Golf Club to battle out the first Open and they played all three rounds (albeit 12-hole rounds) in just one day (17th October). Willie Park Senior won the day, seeing off Old Tom Morris by two shots, although Old Tom would win the following year when the event was expanded to include amateurs too and a total of 18 players competed.
For the first 10 years The Open was organised by Prestwick, before The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews took joint administration in 1871, along with The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. In 1892 the tournament became more recognisable as it is today, expanding to 72 holes, with courses now standardised at 18 holes and The Open comprising four rounds.
In 1920 The Royal & Ancient Golf Club (St Andrews) took over the full organisation of the British Open and the tournament continued to grow. Whilst the early years were dominated by local Scots players – indeed Young Tom Morris, Old Tom Morris and Willie Park won 11 of the first 12 Opens – 1922 saw the first non-European winner, with Walter Hagen winning at Royal St George’s. Whilst Jock Hutchinson, a Scottish-American had won a year earlier, it was Hagen and Bobby Jones who really started the American love affair with the links golf of The Open Championship.
Different players and nationalities have dominated the British Open at different times in its history and if the Scots were the powerhouses of the earliest years and the Americans enjoyed huge success between 1921 and 1933, it’s certainly fair to say that Britain did very well for the following 18 years, much helped by Henry Cotton’s three Open Championship wins.
In recent times things have become a little more open as golf has become ever more global in its reach, although the British Open remains a huge event for US players, who enjoyed success through the likes of Tom Watson – a links legend – and Jack Nicklaus (the Watson v Nicklaus showdown in 1977 is one of the great major battles) and Lee Trevino in the 1970s, whilst Tiger Woods (with three titles) helped America to dominate between 1995 and 2009, when US players won 11 out of 15 Opens.
The Open is quite unique among the majors in being played on links courses and the special challenge that provides, along with the huge influence the weather can have, are all part of the appeal of the world’s oldest major. We have come a long way since 1860, with prize money for the winner jumping from £6 in 1864 to more than £1m in 2015 but the magic of the British Open will last for ever, of that there is no doubt.
British Open Trivia
- Challenge Belt – until 1870 the winner of The Open won the Challenge Belt, made of red leather from Morocco and worth around £25. This was retired in 1870 when Young Tom Morris won for a third consecutive time and with no trophy to play for the 1871 Open was cancelled!
- Claret Jug – thankfully the Claret Jug came along in 1872, after the three organising clubs gave £10 each to have it created. It wasn’t ready for that year’s Open though and so the winner (guess who. …Young Tom) missed out, with 1873 winner Tom Kidd the first man to raise the iconic Claret Jug.
- Young Tom – sadly YTM died at the age of just 24, having four British Opens to his name. He remains the youngest Major champion, having triumphed in 1868 at the age of just 17. Beat that Spieth!
- Scotland! – Scottish players won the first 29 Opens. These were all played in Scotland and, admittedly, most of the field were Scottish too.
- England! – the first English player to win the British Open was amateur John Ball in 1890 whilst the first Open Championship on English soil was in 1894 at Royal St George’s.
- USA! – US players love the British Open and the history of great courses such as St Andrew’s and they’ve also made something of a habit of the winning The Open, with Woods winning three times, Tom Watson, perhaps the greatest links player ever, winning five titles and Jack Nicklaus also winning three Opens.
- What Were The Odds?! – those great US players are joined by other fine Americans in winning the British Open, with class acts such as Phil Mickleson and Lee Trevino also having triumphed. However, some lesser US golfers have also got their hands on the Claret Jug, including Ben Curtis in 2003 and Todd Hamilton in 2004. That pair won at odds of 300/1 and 200/1 respectively!
- Cha-Ching! – prize money at the British Open remained relatively low 1996. In 1964 little known Tony Lema won £1,500 for seeing off Nicklaus, whilst in 1995 John Daly scooped “just” £125,000. By 2002 that had rocketed to £700,000 (well done Ernie!) and a cool £1.1+ for the 2015 winner.
- Not All About The Money – as well as the huge sums of money and the Claret Jug there are a number of other prizes available at the British Open. The leading amateur gets the Silver Medal, whilst all amateurs making the cut receive a Bronze Medal. And one you may not have heard of … the Tooting Bec Cup goes to the lowest round from a UK/Irish born player or player with a parent born there!
- Records! – the oldest winner is Old Tom Morris at the age of 46, with Young Tom the record holder at the other end of the spectrum at 17 years 156 days. Harry Vardon won a record six Opens between 1896 and 1914 whilst Rory McIlroy joined legends of the game in 2014 becoming 72-hole wire to wire Open Champion along with Ted Ray, Gene Sarazen, Henry Cotton, Tom Weiskopf and Tiger Woods.