1881 British Open Winner and Scores

The 1881 British Open was the 21st time this major was played. And for the second of three consecutive years, Bob Ferguson was the champion. This was the last time a 12-hole golf course hosted the Open.

Winner: Bob Ferguson, 170

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

Tournament dates: Oct. 14, 1881

Leader after first round: Bob Ferguson, 60

Leader after second round: Bob Ferguson, 113

What Happened at the 1881 Open Championship

The 1881 British Open took place at Prestwick's 12-hole links, 36 holes played over three rounds. In fact, this was the last 12-holes-per-round Open; Prestwick soon expanded to 18 holes. When the Open next visited Prestwick, in 1884, it was played over two, 18-hole rounds.

The winner was Bob Ferguson, who defeated runner-up and 3-time champion Jamie Anderson by three strokes. Anderson won three Opens in row from 1877-79. Ferguson followed by winning three consecutive himself, 1880-82. Ferguson led by three strokes over second-place Willie Campbell following the second round. But Campbell shot 65 in the final round, worst score among the small number of golfers who finished in the terrible conditions, and fell far back.

This Open Championship was played on a single day (as was the norm in this era), and only eight golfers completed the 36-hole tournament. Why so few? In the R&A's history of the tournament, the "appalling" weather gets the blame:

"A terrible storm hit the west coast of Scotland and almost 200 fishermen lost their lives that day. There were severe gale force winds, rain, sleet and snow. So poor was the weather that the start was delayed by an hour and a half before a sufficient number of markers could be persuaded to go out onto the course."
The first hole at Prestwick that year played 578 yards, an enormous length for the era. In his three rounds, Ferguson played the hole in 8-9-8, while Anderson took 8-10-7. Of course, the atrocious weather probably contributed more to those scores than the length alone.

1881 British Open Final Scores

Bob Ferguson 53-60-57—170
Jamie Anderson 57-60-56—173
Ned Cosgrove 61-59-57—177
Bob Martin 57-62-59—178
Willie Campbell 60-56-65—181
Tom Morris Sr. 58-65-58—181
Willie Park Jr. 66-57-58—181
Willie Fernie 65-62-56—183

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