Oldest Winners of the British Open Championship

Old Tom Morris is the oldest British Open winner
Who are the oldest golfers ever to win the British Open? Overall, the answer is a golfer who has "Old" right there in his very name — how appropriate!

That golfer's win happened in 1867, the eighth Open Championship ever played. In the post-1900 era of this tournament, the oldest winner is a golfer better-known for a mistake he made at another one of the majors.

The List: Oldest British Open Winners

  • Old Tom Morris, 1867 British Open: 46 years, 102 days old. As noted, this was only the eighth time the Open Championship was played, and it was the fourth win for Tom Morris Sr. His song, Young Tom Morris, holds the British Open record as youngest winner.

  • Roberto De Vicenzo, 1967 British Open: 44 years, 92 days old. One year later, at the 1968 Masters, De Vicenzo was disqualified from taking part in a playoff because of a scorecard mistake. But at the 1967 Open, he became the tournament's oldest post-1900 champion.

  • Harry Vardon, 1914 British Open: 44 years, 41 days old. Besides De Vicenzo, Vardon is the only other golfer 44 or older to win the Open since 1900. This was Vardon's record sixth victory.

  • Old Tom Morris, 1864 British Open: 43 years, 92 days old. Morris beat a field of 16 golfers to win the Open for the third time in this, the fifth Open ever played.

  • Phil Mickelson, 2013 British Open: 43 years, 35 days old. Mickelson came from five strokes back to start the final round to win by three. Later, at the 2021 PGA Championship, Mickelson became the first 50-year-old to win a major.

  • Darren Clarke, 2011 British Open: 42 years, 337 days old. This was Clarke's only major championship victory. He won by three over runners-up Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

  • Ernie Els, 2012 British Open: 42 years, 279 days old. This was Els' second win in the Open Championship, and the fourth of his four career wins in majors. It was also his last PGA Tour win.

  • J.H. Taylor, 1913 British Open: 42 years, 97 days old. One year before Vardon broke his post-1900 record as oldest winner, Taylor — like Vardon, part of the "Great Triumvirate" — had set a record here. It was his fifth and final Open Championship win.

  • Willie Park Sr., 1875 British Open: 42 years, 72 days old. Park was the winner of the very first Open in 1860, and here he matched his old rival Old Tom Morris with his fourth overall win.

  • Mark O'Meara, 1998 British Open: 41 years, 187 days old. O'Meara defeated Brian Watts in a playoff.
And what about the oldest runner-up, who was that? Tom Watson got into a playoff at the 2009 British Open when he was almost 60 years old. He was 59 years, 318 days old, to be exact. But he lost that playoff.

Photo credit: Old Tom Morris circa 1860, public domain via University of St. Andrews Library Photographic Archive

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