The British Open

The British Open was first played on October 17, 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. The inaugural tournament was limited to professionals, and attracted a field of eight Scottish golfers who played three rounds of Prestwick's twelve-hole course in a single day. Willie Park Senior won, beating the favorite, Old Tom Morris, by two strokes. The following year the tournament was opened to amateurs; eight of them joined ten professionals in the field.

Initially, competitors received no prize money. The winner would accept a red belt with a silver buckle and that was all. In 1863, the British Open introduced a ?10 purse. The first prize was shared between the second, third, and fourth-place competitors, and the winner only received the belt. In 1864 Old Tom Morris won the first Champion's cash prize of ?6.

Over time, the British Open has evolved. In 1892, the event was doubled in length from 36 to 72 holes, four rounds of what was by then the standard complement of 18 holes. In 1873, the event moved away from Prestwick and was held at St. Andrews. That same year, the Claret Jug replaced the Challenge Belt and has since been awarded to all Open winners.

The tournament grew, and in 1894 Royal St. George became the first Open venue outside of Scotland. It last hosted The Open in 2003 and is the host of the 2011 Open.

As of 1995, the Open is an official PGA event which means that the prize money won in The Open by PGA Tour members is included on the official money list. In addition, all Open Championships before 1995 have been retroactively classified as PGA Tour wins. In 2010, The Open prize fund increased to ?4.8 million, with ?850,000 going to the winner, a ?100,000 jump over the previous three years.

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