Who Was the First Golfer to Break 70 in a British Open?

James Braid photographed in 1904
James Braid was the first golfer in the history of the oldest major, the Open Championship, to record a sub-70 score for an 18-hole round.

In the 1904 British Open, played at Royal St. George's Golf Club, Braid carded a 69 in the third round — the first 18-hole round in the 60s ever in the British Open. (The earliest Opens had rounds that were only 12 holes long and so there were obviously sub-70 rounds in the those days.)

Braid shot 77 in the first round and 80 in the second. His third-round 69 vaulted him into first place by one stroke.

Braid won the championship in 1901, and went on to win another four times (he was one-third of the famed Great Triumvirate). But he didn't win this Open in the year he achieved this milestone in the tournament's scoring history.

He didn't win the 1904 Open even though he followed that 69 with a 71 in the final round. Why? Because Braid's all-time British Open scoring record of 69 lasted only one day.

In the final round, one golfer matched that 69 and another beat it. The golfer who matched it was Jack White, and White's final-round 69 gave him the Open by one stroke over runner-up Braid.

And tied with Braid in second place was J.H. Taylor, who shot 68 in the final round, breaking Braid's one-day-old tournament record.

But Braid will always and forever hold this British Open first: He was the first golfer to break 70 in the Open Championship.

Photo credit: [1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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