Youngest Winners of the British Open Championship

Tom Morris Jr was the youngest British Open winner
Who is the youngest golfer ever to win the British Open? This major, the first professional golf tournament ever, dates all the way back to 1860. That's a long list of winners to consider.

But it turns out that one golfer dominates the list, and that golfer is one of the Open Championship's earliest winners. So, below the list of youngest British Open champs, we've also included more golfers who won at a young age more recently.

The List: Youngest British Open Winners

  • Young Tom Morris, 1868 British Open: 17 years, 156 days old. This was the ninth Open Championship ever played, and the first of four consecutive wins for Young Tom Morris. It's only appropriate that Young Tom is the record-holder for youngest British Open winner, given that his dad, Old Tom Morris, is the record-holder for oldest British Open winner. And the kid beat the old man, who was runner-up, by three strokes for this title.

  • Young Tom Morris, 1869 British Open: 18 years, 149 days old. Open No. 2 for Tommy was by 11 strokes over second-place Bob Kirk.

  • Young Tom Morris, 1870 British Open: 19 years, 148 days old. This time, Tommy won by 12 strokes. With his third consecutive win, Morris retired then tournament's then-trophy, the "Challenge Belt." Without a trophy to hand out, the Open Championship wasn't played the following year, but by 1872 the Claret Jug was ready to take its place.

  • Willie Auchterlonie, 1893 British Open: 21 years, 22 days old. Auchterlonie's 78 in the first round tied for third-lowest score of the tournament, and he was the only golfer in the tournament with four rounds lower than 83. His winning total was 322. His brother Laurie Auchterlonie won the 1902 U.S. Open.

  • Young Tom Morris, 1872 British Open: 21 years, 146 days old. And here's Young Tom again, winning his fourth consecutive Open Championship. This victory was by three strokes over Davie Strath.

  • Seve Ballesteros, 1979 British Open: 22 years, 103 days old. Finally, a modern golfer makes our list. This was the first of three career wins in the Open for Ballesteros, the first of his five career wins in majors. He finished three ahead of the runners-up, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw.
What do you notice about the above list? A couple things are obvious: Tom Morris Jr. takes up four of the six spots; and there is only one post-19th-Century golfer on the list. The fact is, fewer young golfers have won the British Open since 1900 than in any of the other majors. Since 1900, only a handful of golfers younger than 25 have won the Open Championship:

Won the Open Championship Younger Than 25 Since 1900

And Young Tom Morris owning four of the six places on the youngest list — just how impressive is that? Well, maybe not as impressive as it first appears. Only 12 golfers played the Open in 1868. In 1869, only nine completed played. In 1870, 17 completed play; and in 1872, Tommy only had to beat seven other golfers. Still, you can only play against the competition that shows up, and in the late 1860s/early 1870s, there is no question that Tommy Morris was far ahead of his peers in the golf game.

Bonus record: Who is the youngest runner-up ever in a British Open? That's Ballesteros again. In the 1976 British Open, Seve tied Jack Nicklaus for second place behind the winner, Johnny Miller. He was 19 years, 92 days old.

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