The Open Championship, commonly referred to as the British Open, is one of the most prestigious professional golfing tournaments in the world. It is one of the four major tournaments held each year and is the oldest professional tournament, having been played since 1860. The British Open has been won by many of the most historic names in golf, as well as many far less notable names. The Open's Claret Jug has been held by golfers from Tiger Woods to Jack Nicklaus to Walter Hagen.
19th Century Winners
The British Open was won in the 19th Century by many distinguished golfers of that era. Among these golfers were Tom Morris Sr., the founder of the tournament, who won it 1861, '62, '64 and '67. His son Tom Morris Jr. would go on to change the tournament, winning it four times in a row, starting in 1868. Other notable winners in the tournament's first 40 years were Willie Park (1860, 1863, 1866, 1865), Jamie Anderson (1877, 1878, 1879) and Harry Vardon earned the first 3 of his record 6 Open Championships (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914).
Early 1900s Winners
As golf swept the world and became popular in the United States, more winners came from across the pond. Some of the notable names to win the Claret Jug in the first 40 years of the decade included: James Braid (1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910) and John Henry Taylor (1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913). A new wave of golfers emerged after World War I to win the trophy, including: Walter Hagen (1922, 1924, 1928, 1929) and Bobby Jones (1926, 1927, 1930).
The winners after the five-year hiatus for World War II included some of the most historic names in golf. As the game continued to develop into its golden age, non-Britons began to dominate the game and the Open Championship. They included: the South African Bobby Locke (1949, 1950, 1952, 1957); the Australian Peter Thompson (1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965); the South African Gary Player (1959, 1968, 1974); and the Americans Arnold Palmer (1961, 1962,); Jack Nicklaus (1966, 1970, 1978); and Tom Watson (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983).
Late 20th and 21st Century Winners
During the last 15 years of the 20th century and into the 21st century, golf would see another group of players with a stranglehold on the prestigious tournament. This group included: Nick Faldo (1987, 1990, 1992); Seve Ballesteros (1979, 1984, 1988); Greg Norman (1986, 1992); Tiger Woods (2000, 2005, 2006); Padraig Harrington (2007, 2008); and Ernie Els (2002, 2012). Henrik Stenson became the first Swedish winner after his victory in 2016.