Life of Tom Morris Chapter XV - Tommy wins
Open Championship for fourth time, and plays David Strath
ON the 13th September of 1872
Championship was reinstituted and reconstituted.
This is how it is described in The Field of 2ist
September a description which, in view of the
great event it has now become, will, we think,
be very interesting to all our readers. The Field
PRESTWICK GOLF CLUB.
The competition for the challenge trophy came off last
Friday, for the first time, over the Prestwick links. A
competition has not been held since 1870 when the "belt,"
presented by the late Earl of Eglinton, fell into the hands of
the younger Morris, who that year scored his third successive
victory. The competition for the Championship in former
years was fruitful of considerable interest, and tended to
keep the "royal game" before the public. It was, therefore, deemed advisable that these annual professional
contests should not cease, and several lovers of the ancient
game resolved to revive the champion competition. An
appeal was consequently made, and sufficient funds raised
among the members of the Prestwick Golf Club, the Royal
and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, and the Muselburgh
Club, to procure a "cup" for annual competition; the
competition to be open to all comers, and to be played for
annually over one of the following links, viz., Prestwick,
St Andrews and Musselburgh alternately. Unlike the
"belt," this trophy can never become the absolute property
of any winner, but along with the custody of it for a year
he gets a medal to be specially retained, and also a money prize. It will
thus be observed that the champion competition is now thoroughly established, which will tend to
increase the popularity of this elegant and healthy pastime.
The competition this year came off during the autumn
meeting of the Prestwick Golf Club, and both together
drew a large gathering. The weather on Friday during
the competition was fine, barring a strong westerly breeze,
which blew in gusts across the course. The puffed (sic)
nature of the putting-green, caused by the late track of
wet weather, also tended to make the play below the
average of former belt competitions.
The match commenced about ten o'clock, and consisted
of three rounds of 12 holes each, St Andrews rules being
observed; and Sir Robert Hay, Bart., acted as umpire.
Eight competitors entered, and moved off as follows: 1, Young Tom Morris, St Andrews, and Mr William
Hunter, Prestwick; 2, Old Tom Morris, St Andrews, and
Davie Park, Musselburgh; 3, Charlie Hunter, Prestwick,
and Mr William Doleman. Prestwick; 4, Davie Strath, St
Andrews, and Hugh Brown, Prestwick.
Young Tom, the champion, was the favourite until the
commencement of the third round, when Strath started with
five strokes of an advantage. Tom, in the first round,
played a very steady game, but was unfortunate in several
of his short "putts," caused by the wetness of the turf.
In the second round he also played well. In making to the
"stone-dyke hole," he crossed the "cardinal" with his
third stroke, and his ball lay about 3 in. from the wall.
The ball could not thus be played with his putter, but,
taking the iron, he played it against the wall so as to make
a rebound; but, instead, the ball ran up and fell over into
the next field. Tom could not see the hole, as the dyke
intervened, but a well-directed stroke with his niblick laid
it close to the hole. Davie Strath also played a fine game
in the first round, but was unfortunate in several of his
long "putts." He was likewise very fortunate in the
second round, and holed that round in 52 strokes, which
was the lowest score in which the links were taken during
the day". The betting consequently went in his favour,
5 to 4 being offered. In the third round a succession of
ill-luck attended him. In playing the second hole he made
an unfortunate iron shot, which cost him three strokes, and
in the last hole he lost a stroke in the water. He finally
wound up his third round with a score of 61 strokes, being
eight behind Young Tom in the third round, and three on the
day's play. His putting, although not always successful,
has not hitherto been surpassed on these links. The play
of Tom Morris, sen., and Davie Park was also much admired.
The game at the close stood as follows:
Young Tom Morris was thus returned as champion for
the present year, having carried off the trophy, along with
which was a medal to be permanently retained, and £8
in money. It is of importance, as bearing on the present,
match, to observe that, in winning the champion belt,
young Tom did the three rounds in 1868 in 154 strokes; in 1860, 157 strokes;
and in 1870, in 149 strokes. The next
live competitors in order received money prizes to the value
of £5, £4, £3, £2, and £1 respectively.
Taking advantage of the presence of so many professionals, the members of the Prestwick Golf Club, during their
recent meeting, enjoyed many fine and interesting matches.
A capital foursome was played by Mr H. Hart and Tom
Morris, jun., against Mr W. Hunter and Davie Strath.
The former were receiving a third in the first round, which
fell to them by 2 holes. In the second round, playing even,
they also won by 2 up and 1 to play. The holes in this
match were well holed. A foursome of some interest was
played by Mr G. E. Ewing and Tom Morris, sen., against
Mr Gordon Smith and Mr Alexander Morris. The latter won.
A professional foursome came off between the elder and
younger Tom Morris, Davie Strath, St Andrews, and
Davie Park, Musselburgh. The match was two rounds,
24 holes; the first round ended all square; in the second
round Davie Strath and Davie Park were defeated by 1 hole
in the two rounds.
In the spring of 1873 Tommy was pitted
against Davie Strath, one of a well-known St
Andrews golfing family. Strath beat him by
2 holes at "the Burn," but there was only one
stroke of difference in the 36 holes. In the return
match Tommy turned the tables on Davie, and
beat him by the same number of holes. Thus
they stood match for match. This result drew
an even closer attention to the relative merits of
the young golfers, and a great match of 108
holes (three days' golf) was arranged. Strath
won by the narrow margin of 3 holes. Here are
The closeness of this match naturally gave rise
to a repetition of it. The "return" was played on the 27th, 28th and 29th of August. It drew
together large and interested crowds from all
quarters. At the end of the first half of the match
Strath was 5 up, and it seemed as if he was going to score another victory.
But with characteristic and indomitable determination, Tommy
concentrated his energies for a desperate fight,
and by wonderful play eventually secured the match by 6 holes. The following
are the particulars of the strokes:
On the 12 rounds Tommy was thus 3 holes
ahead, but so close was the play that the number
of strokes was exactly equal.
With regard to these matches between Tommy
and Strath, Mr Everard, writing of the former in
Golf in the Badminton Library (Longmans) says,
"The only professional who really ran him close
was his friend, Davie Strath, with whom he
played some wonderfully good and close matches,
but in the long run, and especially in competitions
of importance. Tommy appeared to have the
inside turn. This was due, probably, to his
extraordinary skill as a putter and holer-out; any
sort of putt appeared to be dead to him, and of
the short ones he missed fewer than any player
the writer has ever seen."
Writing of David Strath, Mr Everard says:
"This grand player, though never fortunate
enough to win the blue riband, was nevertheless
about as fine a player as St Andrews has ever
produced. He lives chiefly in the recollection of
golfers as the determined opponent of Young
Tom, and there are not wanting many who
declare (and the writer is not indisposed to share
this opinion) that for brilliant and steady play
combined with absence of mistakes, the golf that
these two exhibited day after day has never been
"On one occasion they
played twelve consecutive rounds, and, if the writer's recollection
serves him, not one round by either player
amounted to 88, and the great majority of them
ruled about So, or very little over. His style
was the very poetry of swing, the most perfectly
graceful and easy that can be imagined. If there
was any one point in which he could not quite
come up to Tommy, it was at the short game;
though Davie was a truly excellent putter, yet
his rival was on occasions phenomenal. It is to be regretted that
consumption deprived the golfing world of this brilliant player ere he had
reached thirty years."
And here at the zenith of Tommy's fame it
will be opportune to introduce the opinion of a
great golfing authority in regard to his play and
form in respect to the great players of to-day.
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