Most Wins in the British Open (Plus All Multiple Champions)

Golfer Harry Vardon swings a club

There have been a lot of multiple winners in the British Open, many more than in the other majors. And that makes sense, since The Open is the oldest of the professional majors. It dates to 1860. Below you'll find all those golfers who won this major two or more times. Plus the answer to the question: Who won the most British Open championships?

Harry Vardon (pictured above) holds the all-time record with six victories in the Open Championship. He won the 1896 British Open for his first, and he won the 1914 British Open for his last. In-between Vardon also won the Opens of 1898, 1899, 1903 and 1911. His final two wins in 1911 and 1914 happened after his recovery from tuberculosis, which struck him shortly after his 1903 British Open win.

Vardon also finished second in The Open four times. He also won the 1900 U.S. Open and was runner-up in the U.S. Opens of 1913 and (at age 50) 1920. Those were the only three times he played the U.S. Open. Vardon's six British Open titles are tied with Jack Nicklaus' six Masters titles for the most wins in any one of the majors.

All the Multiple Winners of the Open Championship

6 Wins (One Golfer)

  • Harry Vardon, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914

5 Wins (Four Golfers)

  • James Braid, 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910
  • J.H. Taylor, 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913
  • Peter Thomson, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965
  • Tom Watson, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983
Braid was the last of the Great Triumvirate members to win his first Open title, but the first of them to win his fifth title: He got to No. 5 in 1910, one year before Vardon and three years before Taylor.

Thomson had maybe the most remarkable stretch in Open history from 1952 through 1958. He finished first or second every one of those seven years, four times the winner, three times the runner-up.

Watson is the most-recent of the 5-time champs, winning his first (in his Open debut) in 1975 and his last in 1983. He also finished second in 1984. Then, at age 59 in the 2009 Open Championship, Watson improbably led going to the 72nd green and going for win No. 6. But he bogeyed to fall into a tie, then lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff.

4 Wins (Five Golfers)

  • Old Tom Morris, 1861, 1862, 1864, 1867
  • Young Tom Morris, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1872
  • Willie Park Sr., 1860, 1863, 1866, 1875
  • Walter Hagen, 1922, 1924, 1928, 1929
  • Bobby Locke, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1957
The father-and-son Morrisses combined for eight wins. The Park family was the great rival to the Morris family, and Willie Park Sr. is also among the 4-time winners. His son, Willie Jr., appears below. Mungo Park, Senior's brother, also won. But the Morrisses still have the Parks, eight wins to seven.

Locke's four wins happened just before and during Thomson's run in the 1950s. From 1949 through 1958, Locke or Thomson won eight out of 10 Opens.

Hagen was the first American-born winner of the British Open, and the highest American on this list until Watson came along.

3 Wins (Nine Golfers)

  • Jamie Anderson, 1877, 1878, 1879
  • Bob Ferguson, 1880, 1881, 1882
  • Bobby Jones, 1926, 1927, 1930
  • Henry Cotton, 1934, 1937, 1948
  • Gary Player, 1959, 1968, 1974
  • Jack Nicklaus, 1966, 1970, 1978
  • Seve Ballesteros, 1979, 1984, 1988
  • Nick Faldo, 1987, 1990, 1992
  • Tiger Woods, 2000, 2005, 2006
Bobby Jones is the last amateur winner of the British Open, and his final win in 1930 came during his Grand Slam year.

Player was the only golfer in the 20th century to win British Opens in three different decades. Nicklaus, meanwhile, won "only" three Opens, his fewest victories in any of the four professional majors. But he holds the British Open (and major championship) record for second-place finishes: He was runner-up seven times.

2 Wins (Eight Golfers)

  • Bob Martin, 1876, 1885
  • Willie Park Jr., 1887, 1889
  • Harold Hilton, 1892, 1897
  • Arnold Palmer, 1961, 1962
  • Lee Trevino, 1971, 1972
  • Greg Norman, 1986, 1993
  • Padraig Harrington, 2007, 2008
  • Ernie Els, 2002, 2012
Hilton, like Jones, won his titles as an amateur. Palmer first played the Open Championship in 1960, bringing a new excitement to the tournament (it wasn't common at that time for top American stars to play the Open). He was runner-up that year, then won the next two.

See also: Full list of British Open winners

Photo credit: Bain News Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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