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Who Are The Most Successful Golfers At The Open Championship?

Who Are The Most Successful Golfers At The Open Championship?
Kim Morrissey
By Kim Morrissey
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The 2023 Open Championship takes place from Sunday 16th July – Sunday 23rd July at Royal Liverpool, making it the 12th time the course has held the tournament.

With Rory McIlroy being the most recent player to win The Open at that course, who has the most wins in the event and how many wins do they have?

Harry Vardon – 6 wins

  • The Open entries – 30 (1893 – 1914, 1920 – 1922, 1925 – 1929)
  • Wins at The Open – 6 (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914)

The most successful player in the history of The Open Championship, Jersey-born Harry Vardon took six wins over the course of 18 years, with the first win coming in 1896.

Having placed eighth at the end of the first day, Vardon rose through the ranks to draw level with fellow Brit J.H. Taylor by the end of the second and final day. Entering into a playoff, Vardon took the win by four shots – scoring 157 over two deciding rounds of Muirfield – and won a handsome £30 in prize money.

Vardon took his second win in similar style, coming from second and three shots down after the first day to take the win – and another £30 – by one shot after the final rounds. He took his next two wins in reasonably quick succession, however, his early winning streak was cut short by a bout of tuberculosis in 1903.

He continued to compete in The Open Championship however it wouldn’t be until 1911 that he would take his next win, with the sixth and final win coming in 1914. He passed away 23 years later in 1937, aged 66.

Vardon’s commitment and talent left a lasting legacy in golf. His 49 professional wins, including a U.S. Open win in 1900, made him a star of the era. In 1937, following his death, the PGA of America created the Vardon Trophy – an award given to the PGA Tour player with the year’s lowest adjusted scoring average – while the British PGA also created the Harry Vardon Trophy, which is given to the winner of the Race to Dubai. Both awards are still handed out to this day.


Vardon’s illustrious career was recognised with an induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, cementing his place in the annals of golf history.

James Braid, John Henry Taylor, Peter Thomson and Tom Watson – 5 wins

  • James Braid The Open wins – 5 (1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910)
  • John Henry Taylor The Open wins – 5 (1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913)
  • Peter Thomson The Open wins – 5 (1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965)
  • Tom Watson The Open wins – 5 (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983)

While Harry Vardon sits alone at the top of the leaderboard of multiple winners, there are four golfers who sit joint-second on five.

British golfer John Henry Taylor (J.H. Taylor) was the first of these golfers to take a win, with his first coming in 1894. Playing at the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England, Taylor took the win by an impressive five shots, with then-reigning champion Vardon down in joint fifth eight shots back. During his time he’d play against contemporaries Harry Vardon and James Braid, the three of them becoming known as “The Great Triumvirate” for their proficiency for winning.


James Braid was a Scottish golfer, whose first win came in 1901 and his last nine years later in 1910. He scored 19 professional wins, and reportedly designed over 200 golf courses including the King’s and Queen’s courses at Gleneagles.


Peter Thomson is one of only five Australians to win at The Open Championship in its 150 iterations, with his total of five wins making him the most successful Australian at the event. His first three wins came consecutively, taking the title by one, two and three strokes respectively, with his fifth and final win secured by two strokes over Welshman Brian Huggett and Irishman Christy O’Connor Snr.

One of the most well-known names in golf, Tom Watson is the golfer who took his fifth win most recently, in 1983. The American won The Open Championship five times, the U.S. Open once, and the Masters Tournament twice. Like Harry Vardon, Watson is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame having been inducted in 1988.


Willie Park Sr., Tom Morris Sr., Tom Morris Jr., Walter Hagen and Bobby Locke – 4 wins

  • Willie Park Sr. The Open wins – 4 (1860, 1863, 1866, 1875)
  • Tom Morris Sr. The Open wins – 4 (1861, 1862, 1867, 1867)
  • Tom Morris Jr. The Open wins – 4 (1868, 1869, 1870, 1872)
  • Walter Hagen The Open wins – 4 (1922, 1924, 1928, 1929)
  • Bobby Locke The Open wins – 4 (1949, 1950, 1952, 1957)

Scots Willie Park Sr., Tom Morris Sr. (Old Tom Morris) and Tom Morris Jr. (Young Tom Morris) are three of the most recognisable names associated with The Open Championship, and are also all four-time winners.

Willie Park Sr. was the first-ever winner of The Open Championship, winning the inaugural event by two strokes in 1860. This would set the stage for an over decade-long battle between the three, with either Park or one of the Tom Morrises taking the win in eleven of the first twelve events (the 1865 tournament being taken by Andrew Strath).

While neither Morris would win again after 1872 (with Young Tom Morris tragically dying aged 24 on Christmas Day, 1875), Park took his fourth and final win in 1875, again by two strokes.


Walter Hagen was the second American to win The Open, doing so by one stroke at Royal St George’s in 1922. His second win came two years later at Royal Liverpool, again by one stroke, while his third and fourth wins came consecutively in 1928 and 1929. His fourth and final win – at St Andrews – was by six strokes. Hagen had a prolific golf career, winning 45 times on the PGA Tour and during the 1920s alone he won The Open Championship four times and the PGA Championship five times.

Bobby Locke, from South Africa, is the most recent four-time winner, and is the most successful South African player at the event. While he competed across the PGA Tour and the Sunshine Tour among others, it was The Open where he had the most success. Perhaps one of his longest-lasting contributions to golf was coining the phrase “You drive for show, but putt for dough” – something you’re guaranteed to hear on almost any course around the world.

Are there any Irish multiple winners at The Open Championship?

Pádraig Harrington is the only Irish player to win more than once at The Open, taking win in both 2007 and 2008. The only other Irish winner is Shane Lowry, who won by six strokes over Brit Tommy Fleetwood in 2019.


There are also three Northern Irish winners – Fred Daly (1947), Darren Clarke (2011) and Rory McIlroy (2014).

How many times has Tiger Woods won The Open Championship?

Tiger Woods has won The Open Championship a total of three times – in 2000, 2005 and 2006.

His win in 2000 is one of only four wins since 1900 which was taken by eight strokes – the others being J.H. Taylor in 1900, James Braid in 1908, and J.H. Taylor again in 1913.


The largest margin pre-1900 by Young Tom Morris, who won by 12 strokes in 1870 over both Bob Kirk and Davie Strath.

All multiple-time winners at The Open Championship

Golfer Nationality Total Wins Years won
 Harry Vardon Jersey 6 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914
 James Braid Scottish 5 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910
 John Henry Taylor English 5 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913
 Peter Thomson Australian 5 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965
 Tom Watson American 5 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983
Old Tom Morris Scottish 4 1861, 1862, 1864, 1867
Young Tom Morris Scottish 4 1868, 1869, 1870, 1872
 Willie Park Sr. Scottish 4 1860, 1863, 1866, 1875
 Walter Hagen American 4 1922, 1924, 1928, 1929
 Bobby Locke South African 4 1949, 1950, 1952, 1957
 Jamie Anderson Scottish 3 1877, 1878, 1879
 Bob Ferguson Scottish 3 1880, 1881, 1882
 Bobby Jones American 3 1926, 1927, 1930
 Henry Cotton English 3 1934, 1937, 1948
 Gary Player South African 3 1959, 1968, 1974
 Jack Nicklaus American 3 1966, 1970, 1978
 Seve Ballesteros Spanish 3 1979, 1984, 1988
 Nick Faldo English 3 1987, 1990, 1992
 Tiger Woods American 3 2000, 2005, 2006
 Bob Martin Scottish 2 1876, 1885
 Willie Park Jr. Scottish 2 1887, 1889
 Harold Hilton English 2 1892, 1897
 Arnold Palmer American 2 1961, 1962
 Lee Trevino American 2 1971, 1972
 Greg Norman American 2 1986, 1993
 Pádraig Harrington Irish 2 2007, 2008
 Ernie Els South African 2 2002, 2012


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