Who Was the First Non-British Golfer to Win the British Open?

Golfer Arnaud Massy

The British Open, officially named the Open Championship, dates to 1860. It is the oldest major championship, and longest-running pro tournament of any kind, in golf history. How long did it take before a golfer who was not British won the Open? It took a long time — nearly 50 years.

British golfers won every Open Championship from 1860 through 1906. Willie Park Sr., of Scotland, won the first in 1860; and James Braid, of Scotland, won in 1907. Every golfer in-between was either Scottish, English or Harry Vardon. Thirty-five of the Opens through 1906 were won by Scots; six were won by Englishmen; and Vardon won four. Vardon was from the island of Jersey, a British Crown Dependency that is part of the Channel Islands, politically and geographically considered British. (Old golf history books often classified Vardon as English.)

Then, in 1907, someone who had none of those nationalities, nor any others that were British, won the Open. That golfer was Arnaud Massy of France. Massy (pictured above) was the first non-British winner of the British Open.

Massy finished two strokes ahead of J.H. Taylor at the 1907 British Open. Taylor led Massy by two entering the final round, but then shot 80. Massy was able to claim the victory with a final-round 77.

Massy was born in the city of Biarritz, France, in 1877. His first big win was the 1906 French Open, and he won his country's open three more times. Massy also had multiple wins in the Spanish Open. He had 10 Top 10 finishes in the British Open, including runner-up in 1911. He lived until 1950.

When Massy died in 1950, no other golfer from Continental Europe had won the Open Championship. It was still just Massy. And it remained that way until Seve Ballesteros of Spain won the 1979 British Open.

The winners of the first 46 Opens played were all Brits. But the winner of the 47th Open, the 1907 Open, was French. And that makes Arnaud Massy the answer to the question, "who was the first non-Brit to win the British Open?"

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