Golfers Who Played in Most British Opens

What is the Open Championship tournament record for most appearances — most times playing this major championship? That record is 46. And the golfer who holds that record is a three-time winner of the tournament.

Most Appearances in Open Championship

These are the 10 golfers with the most starts in the British Open:

46 — Gary Player, first appearance in 1956, last in 2001
43 — Sandy Lyle, first appearance in 1974, last in 2018
38 — Jack Nicklaus, first appearance in 1962, last in 2005
38 — Sandy Herd, first appearance in 1885, last in 1933
38 — Tom Watson, first appearance in 1975, last in 2015
37 — Nick Faldo, first appearance in 1976, last in 2015
35 — Ben Sayers, first appearance in 1878, last in 1914
34 — Bob Charles, first appearance in 1958, last in 2001
34 — Old Tom Morris, first appearance in 1860, last in 1896
32 — Tom Williamson, first in 1897, last in 1936

Gary Player's 46 starts are the most in Open Championship history. He was 20 years old at the time of his first appearance in 1956, and he finished fourth that year. Player was 65 years old when he missed the cut in his final start in The Open in 2001.

In-between, Player won the 1959 British Open, the 1968 British Open and 1974 British Open. (Player is one of three golfers, along with Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor, to win the Open in three different decades).

Eight of the golfers in the list above won the Open Championship, with Watson's five victories leading the way. Nicklaus had three wins but was runner-up seven more times. Old Tom Morris had four wins. Charles' victory in 1963 made him the first left-handed winner of any major championship. Sandy Herd's win in 1902 was the first by a golfer using the Haskell ball, which ushered in modern golf balls.

Only Ben Sayers and Tom Williamson, among those on the list, failed to win the Open. Sayers' name is still part of golf today thanks to the Ben Sayers brand of golf clubs. Williamson is lesser-known today; his best finish in an Open was fourth in 1914. He was also a clubmaker and course designer.

Most Consecutive Appearances in The Open

  • Gary Player, 46
  • Sandy Lyle, 42
  • Jack Nicklaus, 36
Not only did Player make 46 total starts in the British Open, but he made 46 consecutive starts without missing any. And that is, obviously, also the tournament record.

After Lyle made his first start in 1974, he missed the next two Opens. Then he played every one from 1977 through 2018. Nicklaus started every open from 1962-97, didn't play in 1998-99, played in 2000, then next played in his farewell in 2005.

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