The Open has had many winners since the establishment of the major golf tournament in 1860. Each winner of The Open is called the Champion Golfer of the Year, and is awarded the Claret Jug, which they may keep until the next tournament.
In the early days, The Open gave the Champions a different trophy – the Challenge Belt. This was awarded permanently to ‘Young’ Tom Morris, who won the belt three consecutive years (aged only seventeen in the first win). The Open’s belt was crafted from red leather from Morocco, and fronted with a decorative silver buckle. The Challenge Belt is now on display at the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse at St Andrews.
The Claret Jug has been won many more times than the three that were required to keep the belt – Harry Vardon won the competition six times in total, his contemporaries John Henry Taylor and James Braid won The Open five times each.
All The Open Winners since 2000:
- Shane Lowry (Ireland) Royal Portrush 2019
- Francesco Molinari (Italy) Carnoustie 2018
- Jordan Spieth (United States), Royal Birkdale 2017
- Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Royal Troon 2016
- Zach Johnson (United States), St Andrews 2015
- Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Royal Liverpool 2014
- Phil Mickelson (United States), Muirfield 2013
- Ernie Els (2) (South Africa), Royal Lytham & St Annes 2012
- Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland), Royal St George’s 2011
- Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), St Andrews 2010
- Stewart Cink (United States), Turnberry 2009
- Pádraig Harrington (2) (Ireland), Royal Birkdale 2008
- Pádraig Harrington (Ireland), Carnoustie 2007
- Tiger Woods (3) (United States) ,Royal Liverpool 2006
- Tiger Woods (2) (United States), St Andrews 2005
- Todd Hamilton (United States), Royal Troon 2004
- Ben Curtis (United States), Royal St George’s 2003
- Ernie Els (South Africa), Muirfield 2002
- David Duval (United States), Royal Lytham & St Annes 2001
- Tiger Woods (United States), St Andrews 2000
The Open Winners: Most Memorable Victors
Francesco Molinari, The Open Winner of Carnoustie 2018
Francesco Molinari is the reigning champion of The Open. The Italian is the only man from his country to have held the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, and did so in an impressive fashion. The Turin man entered 2017 ranked 33rd in the world, but shortly after this began his impressive ascent to the top of the golfing world.
The Italian’s stunning performances across the globe in the past two years have made him one of the most recognisable golfers on Earth. Not only is he riding high, currently ranked 6th, he’s also become a fan favourite over his 2018 rise to fame.
At The Open, Molinari beat the likes of Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to claim his first and only Major title. His style has been consistent and technically praised by coaches and analysts across golf, and this has been a key to the meteoric success.
Francesco’s older brother Edoardo tied for 7th in 2014, won three European Tour titles, the Scottish Open (2010), Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles (2010), and Hassan II Golf Trophy.
Rory McIlroy, The Open Winner of Royal Liverpool 2014
McIlroy looked on fire from the start of the event – quickly getting himself towards the top of the leader board. This hot performance continued throughout the Open, but others weren’t to be discounted right away – many kept up with the Northern Irishman until the last day at Liverpool, but McIlroy proved why he’s considered one of the best in the world and clinched the title.
Rory McIlroy won the title at just twenty-five years of age, and was the third Open winner from Northern Ireland, after Fred Daly and Darren Clarke who battled their way into golf history books in 1947 and 2011 respectively.
Phil Mickelson, The Open Winner of Muirfield 2013
A year prior to McIlroy’s statement that he is to become a long-term staple of international golf, Phill Mickelson used the course at Muirfield to prove he still is. At forty-three years of age, the American was seen to be in the twilight of his career by many pundits and analysts. He became the third golfer over forty to win The Open in three consecutive years.
Mickelson dazzled crowds, officials and hospitality guests alike and finished the difficult course three-under. Having come rrunner-upin the US Open for the sixth year running just a month before, this tournament victory eased the pain of second places for Mickelson.
Mickelson won with his consistent playing – Ian Poulter and Adam Scott took much more than their fair share of media attention for dramatic ups and downs in the competition. Lee Westwood struggled in the bunkers throughout the tournament, they haunted his time at Muirfield. Henrick Stenson took a great deal of European attention, too, performing at his best throughout the Open 2013.
Mickelson outclassed all of the competition, proved he’s still got it and took home the Claret Jug.
Tiger Woods, The Open Winner of St Andrews 2000
A new millennium in the Open was kicked off with a win by the man who would go on to dominate golf rankings in the start of the 2000s, and would still be a major player almost two decades later.
Tiger Woods had already won the Masters (1997) and the US PGA Championship (1999) when he came to St Andrews for the second time, aged just 24. The last time the great player had stood on the course, he was aged just 19 and placed 68th.
Five years later, he was already on his path to all-time greatness and won, scoring under 70 in each round of play.
John Daly, The Open Winner of St Andrews 1995
One of the most unpredictable golfers, both on and off the course, John Daly had somewhat of a good relationship with the Old Course at St Andrews. He won the Dunhill Cup in 1993 with Fred Couples and Payne Stewart on the course, and this quality performance in Scotland likely set him up for this 1995 Open win.#
He became an Open winner after a close playoff with Costantino Rocca, despite not even looking close to the favourites prior to the event.
Severiano Ballesteros, The Open Winner of Royal Lytham & St Annes 1988
This was Seve’s third Open victory, taking home the title previously at St Andrews (1984) and one other time at Royal Lytham & St Annes (1979). The Spaniard has been one of the most successful golfers in Euorpean history, competing in twenty-eight Opens from 1975 to 2005.
His style was somewhat hit-and-miss, giving fans great excitement when he was playing. Between the years of 1985 and 1990, he won the competition twice, failed to make the top 30 three times and even didn’t place in the 1990 Open at St Andrews (where he’d won six years prior). At twenty-two years of age, Seve became the youngest Champion Golfer of the Year of the whole of the 21st Century.
This Open was particularly memorable for being completely rained off on Sunday, meaning the last day of competition was held on the Monday – the first time this had ever happened in 130 years.
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