News & ToursSeptember 14, 2015

With all due respect to Young Tom Morris, we're declaring Lydia Ko the youngest major champ ever

Following Lydia Ko's triumph at the Evian Championship on Sunday, you may have noticed a couple variations of headlines trying to put the 18-year-old phenom's win in proper perspective.

Lydia Ko becomes youngest winner of an LPGA major

Lydia Ko becomes youngest major winner in modern era

Why the subtle distinctions and not simply Lydia Ko becomes youngest major winner ever? Because technically, she's not the youngest major winner ever. That honor belongs to Young Tom Morris, who won the British Open when he was only 17.

Impressive, no matter the circumstances -- but there are some circumstances involving that accomplishment that need to be addressed.

First off, Young Tom won in 1868. That's almost two decades before the world's first automobile was built and even longer before any of golf's other majors had even been created. In other words, it's tough to compare the feat to anything done in more modern times. The runner-up was his dad, Old Tom Morris, who he beat by three shots to claim half of the 12-pound prize pool. Ko beat Lexi Thompson by six shots to claim a first-place check of $487,500.

Speaking of the number 12, Prestwick Golf Club, designed by Old Tom, only had 12 holes. The tournament consisted of three trips around the track in one day for a total of 36 holes. Young Tom shot a final-round 49 -- the lowest 12-hole score of the day -- and a three-round score of 154. Ko shot a final-round 63 on an 18-hole course. Again, apples and oranges.

Young Tom and Old Tom were two of just 12 golfers in the field. All of whom were from Scotland. Ko bested a field of 120 golfers from around the world. Advantage: Ko.

This isn't to knock the achievement of Young Tom, who dominated the competition he was faced with and won four consecutive British Opens before tragically dying at 24. It's simply to point out that his record as the youngest to win a major came before he could have even picked up a phone to tell his friends about it. As a result, maybe we shouldn't loop it in with what Lydia Ko just did.

Ko is six months younger than Morgan Pressel was when she won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship to set the modern mark. So at the risk of upsetting golf purists -- and the entire country of Scotland -- we're relegating Young Tom to asterisk/footnote status and changing Sunday's headline:

Lydia Ko becomes youngest major champion ever. Period.

RELATED: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms


More from The Loop