Golf’s four majors each have their own unique traits. The Masters is “a tradition unlike any other,” the U.S. Open is “golf’s toughest test” and the PGA Championship is “the season’s final major.”
Perhaps none of them are as unique as the oldest championship in golf, the Open Championship. It’s golf in its purest form, taking place at some of the most iconic links courses in the United Kingdom. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Open Championship.
The Open Championship is the season’s third major, played in mid-July. This year, it will be held July 20-23.
The R&A conducts the Championship.
Yes, it is. In the United States and other parts of the world, the tournament is referred to as the British Open to help distinguish the championship from other Open championships held in other countries. However, the official name of the tournament is The Open Championship.
The first Open Championship was played in 1860 at Prestwick in South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was a one-day, 36-hole competition. Willie Park, Sr., won by two strokes with a total score of 174.
The Open Championship is a four-round, 72-hole stroke play competition, with a cut after 36 holes. There are 156 players in the field.
The Open Championship employs a four-hole aggregate playoff if players are tied at the end of four rounds. If players are still tied after four holes they play sudden death until a winner is determined. It’s not the only major to use the aggregate format – the PGA Championship uses a three-hole aggregate playoff in the event of a tie.
The 146th Open Championship is being held at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, north of Liverpool. It’s the 10th time Royal Birkdale will host the event, the last coming in 2008 when Padraig Harrington won the championship for the second straight season. This year, it will play as a par 70 at 7,156 yards.
Henrik Stenson won the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon in South Ayrshire, Scotland, shooting an incredibly memorable final-round 63. He won by three strokes over Phil Mickelson with a record-breaking score of 20-under 264.
Harry Vardon holds the record for most victories at the Open Championship with six.
There are several ways players can qualify for the Open Championship, including through the Open Qualifying Series and Final Qualifying, which you can learn more about here.
To see the other 28 exemption categories, click here.
The Open Championship is the only major that uses a rotation or “rota” of courses in the United Kingdom. There are currently nine courses in the rota, four in England, five in Scotland. They are as follows: Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Royal Troon, Turnberry, Muirfield, Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, Royal St. George’s, Royal Lytham and Royal Portrush. Additionally, Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland is scheduled to host The Open in 2019, the first time it has been held there since 1951.
Scotland has hosted the most, with 62 Open Championships.
The top 70 players and ties make the cut at the Open Championship.
Old Tom Morris is the oldest, winning the Open Championship in 1867 at Prestwick at the age of 46.
Young Tom Morris is the youngest, winning the Open Championship the following year in 1868 at Prestwick at the age of 17. He also holds the record for most consecutive victories (4), winning the next three in a row after his first.
Ten players have shot the lowest round (63) in the championship's history. They are: Mark Hayes (1977, Turnberry), Isao Aoki (1980, Muirfield), Greg Norman (1986, Turnberry), Paul Broadhurst (1990, St. Andrews), Jodie Mudd (1991, Royal Birkdale), Nick Faldo (1993, Royal St. George's), Payne Stewart (1993, Royal St. George's), Rory McIlroy (2010, St. Andrews), Phil Mickelson (2016, Royal Troon) and Henrik Stenson (2016, Royal Troon).
Paul Broadhurst and Rory McIlroy's rounds are the lowest in relation to par (-9) in Open Championship history.
Henrik Stenson set both scoring records in 2016 at Royal Troon, with 264 strokes and 20 under par.
The largest margin of victory in an Open Championship came in 1862 at Prestwick, when Old Tom Morris won by 13 strokes while the event was still contested over 36 holes.
The largest margin since World War II is eight strokes by Tiger Woods over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els during the 2000 Open at St. Andrews.
The highest winning total came in 1894, when England's J.H. Taylor won with 326 strokes at Royal St. George's.
There have been seven wire-to-wire winners in Open Championship history. They are: Ted Ray (1912, Muirfield), Bobby Jones (1927, St. Andrews), Gene Sarazen (1932, Prince's), Henry Cotton (1934, Royal St. George's), Tom Weiskopf (1973, Royal Troon), Tiger Woods (2005, St. Andrews) and Rory McIlroy (2014, Royal Liverpool).
An amateur has won the Open Championship six times in history. They are: John Ball (1890, Prestwick), Harold Hilton (1892, Muirfield and 1897, Royal Liverpool) and Bobby Jones (1926, Royal Lytham and St. Annes; 1927, St. Andrews; 1930, Royal Liverpool).
The Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur of the Open Championship, provided they complete all 72 holes. The most recent time it was awarded was in 2015 at St. Andrews, when Jordan Niebrugge finished with an 11-under total, just four shots behind winner Zach Johnson.
Of the 145 Open Championships that have been contested, an American has won 44 of them, the most any country has produced.
Scotland has produced the next most with 41 winners, while England has produced 20.
The Open Championship is played at classic links golf courses that feature deep bunkers, no trees, massive, undulating greens and high fescue. It's typically played in high winds, colder temperatures and often, rain.
What does the winner of the Open Championship receive?
The winner receives the Claret Jug, widely recognized as the greatest trophy in golf. He also carries the label of "The Champion Golfer of the Year."
For the first time in 2017, the prize money will be denominated in U.S. dollars. The total purse is $10.25 million, with the winner receiving a payout of $1,845,000.
The winner of the Open Championship receives 100 world ranking points.
The winner of the Open Championship receives 600 points.
Future sites have been confirmed through 2020. They are as follows:
-Carnoustie Golf Links - Carnoustie, Scotland (2018) -Royal Portrush Golf Club - Portrush, Northern Ireland (2019) -Royal St. George's Golf Club - Sandwich, England (2020)
NBC signed a 12-year deal to broadcast the Open Championship, and this year will be its second.