The British Open Championship is the oldest male golf tournament. It is celebrated every year from 1860 in one of the prestigious golf clubs in the United Kingdom and is run by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, regardless of where they are played. The tournament is always played on a link, or golf course located in a coastal zone, and is characterized by being an area where dunes predominate. The Open is performed on the weekend of the third Friday of July, is the fourth major in the calendar (after the Augusta Masters and the US Open and after the change of dates from August to May of the PGA Championship). Like the rest of the majors is played under Stroke Play. In 2006, the prize fund was £ 4 million (approximately € 5.86 million), the largest of the four majors.
Allan Robertson is considered the first “great” golf. He dominated this sport in the mid-19th century and seemed so invincible that after his death in 1859, a tournament was organized to find a successor to the “Golf Champion.” This was the birth of the British Open, which has been held since then in his honor.
The first edition of the British Open took place on 17 October 1860 at the Prestwick Golf Club. This first edition had only professional golfers, and only eight of them participated, playing three rounds on the club’s 12-hole course in one day. The winner was Willie Park, Sir, with a 174-punch card, beating the favorite, Tom Morris, Sir, by two strokes. In the next edition, the tournament opened its doors to amateur players, and 18 players participated (10 professionals and eight amateurs).
Initially, the trophy given to the winner was a belt made of red leather with a silver buckle. However, in the first three editions, no cash prize was awarded. In 1863, he established a fund for prizes of£ 10 to split between the second, the third, and the fourth professional classifieds. In 1864, Tom Morris was the first tournament winner to receive a cash prize; that year, it was £ 6. By 2004, the winner’s prize had amounted to£720000. The championship belt was awarded as a prize for the last time in 1870, after Tom Morris, Jr. to win the tournament for the third time in a row and stay in the property. From then on, it was replaced by the current trophy, known as Claret Jug, or solid silver jug.
The Prestwick Golf Club hosted the tournament between 1860 and 1870; from that time, shared the responsibility with two other clubs, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. In 1892 the tournament doubled in duration, from 36 to 72 holes, in four rounds of 18 holes. Due to a large number of participants that attracted the competition, the organization decided to introduce the “cut” after two shots in the 1898 edition. It is from 1920 that all responsibility for the organization of the tournament rests exclusively with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
The Open has always been dominated by professional players, with only six amateur player wins (all between 1890 and 1930).