Longest Gaps Between Wins at The Open Championship

Did you know that the longest time between any golfer's first and last wins in the British Open is nearly 20 years? Let's take a look at that mark, plus The Open record for longest gap between successive wins.

Obviously, these two records only apply to those golfers who won multiple British Open titles. But since The Open dates to 1860, we're still talking about quite a few golfers: There have (so far) been nearly 30 multiple champs in this major's history.

Longest Gap Between First, Last Open Victory

  • 19 years — J.H. Taylor, first win 1894, last win 1913 (Taylor also won in 1895, 1900 and 1909, for five wins total)
  • 18 years — Harry Vardon, first win 1896, last win 1914 (Vardon also won in 1898, 1899, 1903 and 1911 for six wins total)
  • 15 years — Willie Park Sr., first win 1860, last win 1875 (Park also won in 1863 and 1866 for four wins total)
  • 15 years — Gary Player, first win 1959, last win 1974 (Player also won in 1968 for three wins total)
  • 14 years — Henry Cotton, first win 1934, last win 1948 (Cotton also won in 1937 for three wins total)
Taylor and Vardon were two-thirds of Britain's "Great Triumvirate" of late 19th/early 20th century superstars. The third was James Braid, who won the British Open five times. But all five of Braid's victories happened within a 10-year period (1901-1910).

Taylor and Vardon had victories in three different decades. So did Gary Player. In fact, Player is the only golfer of the 20th century to win the Open Championship in three different decades.

Longest Gap Between Successive British Open Wins

The wins we are talking about here are not necessarily a golfer's first or last, but, rather, any two successive wins. A golfer's first and second Open victories, for example, or his second and third, and so on.

  • 11 years — Henry Cotton, won in 1937 and then won again in 1948
  • 10 years — Ernie Els, won in 2002 and then won again in 2012
  • 9 years — Willie Park Sr., won in 1866 and then won again in 1875
  • 9 years — Bob Martin, won in 1876 and then won again in 1885
  • 9 years — J.H. Taylor, won in 1900 and then won again in 1909
  • 9 years — Gary Player, won in 1959 and then won again in 1968
  • 8 years — Jack Nicklaus, won in 1970 and then won again in 1978
  • 8 years — Harry Vardon, won in 1903 and then won again in 1911
The 11-year gap between the record-holder Henry Cotton's 1937 and 1948 wins deserves an asterisk: The Open was not played in six years (1940-45) of that gap. Cotton had won his first in 1934, won again in 1937, and probably would have been the betting favorite in many (perhaps all) of those missing years.

Related articles:

R&A. The 151st Open Royal Liverpool Media Guide, 2023.

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