1870 British Open: Young Tom's 3rd In a Row

Tom Morris Jr.'s dominance of the Open Championship was cemented with his third consecutive win. The 1870 British Open was the 11th one played but the last one that awarded the "Challenge Belt," the tournament's original trophy.

Winner: Tom Morris Jr., 149

Where it was played: Prestwick Golf Club, Ayrshire, Scotland

Tournament dates: Sept. 15, 1870

Leader after first round: Tom Morris Jr., 47

Leader after second round: Tom Morris Jr., 98

What Happened at the 1870 Open Championship

The 1870 British Open was the last one to award the tournament's original trophy, the Challenge Belt. The belt was made of a wide, red Morocco leather and was adorned with silver buckles and emblems. At the time the rule was the winner kept the Challenge Belt for a year, then brought it back to be passed on to the next champ. But any golfer winning the tournament three consecutive years got to keep it permanently.

And that's what Tommy Morris — better known today as Young Tom Morris — did here: He won his third consecutive Open Championship title. And so Young Tom gained permanent possession of the Challenge Belt.

Which led to a problem: What was the Open supposed to award as a trophy going forward? That question caused so much consternation that the Open wasn't even played in 1871; it didn't resume until 1872, and the Claret Jug arrived shortly thereafter as the new tournament trophy — the jug we know today was first presented at the 1873 Open.

As for the tournament play in 1870, it was a runaway for Morris. He opened with a 47 over the 12-hole Prestwick course, the lowest round of the event and better by two strokes than the course record he set in 1868. He then added loops of 51 and 51. Among all the other golfers in the field, there was only one round better than any of Morris', a second-round 49 by Davie Strath.

Young Tom finished 12 strokes in front of runners-up Strath and Bob Kirk. (Kirk had also been runner-up to Morris the previous year.) The British Open was a 36-hole tournament through 1888, and Morris' total of 149 in 1870 was never beaten during that period.

1870 British Open Final Scores

Tom Morris Jr. 47-51-51—149
Bob Kirk 52-52-57—161
Davie Strath 54-49-58—161
Tom Morris Sr. 56-52-54—162
a-William Doleman 57-54-58—169
Willie Park Sr. 60-55-58—173
Jamie Anderson 59-57-58—174
John Allan 61-58-57—176
a-A. Doleman 61-59-58—178
Charlie Hunter 58-56-64—178
Thomas Brown 66-55-59—180
a-James Miller 66-63-54—183
a-T. Hunter 62-63-60—185
a-F. Doleman 65-64-60—189
W. Boyd 65-59-67—191
J. Hunter 62-65-64—191
William Dow 68-64-66—198

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1869 British Open - 1872 British Open

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