British Open Records: The Tournament Bests

All-time tournament bests at the Open Championship

Greg Norman at the 1986 Open Championship
Greg Norman shares one British Open record and is high on another list. Simon Bruty/Getty Images

Which golfers hold the tournament records at the British Open? You can browse through various categories - wins, scores, youngest/oldest and more - below to view the tournament's top golfers.

And you can find more historical facts and figures about this golf major can be found on the British Open FAQ and British Open Winners pages. We'll start with the records for wins and near-wins:

Most Victories
6 - Harry Vardon, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914
5 - James Braid, 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910
5 - J.H. Taylor, 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913
5 - Peter Thomson, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1965
5 - Tom Watson, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983

Vardon and Jack Nicklaus (at the The Masters) are the only 6-time winners at any of golf's four professional majors.

Most Second-Place Finishes
7 - Jack Nicklaus, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1979
6 - J.H. Taylor, 1896, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1914

Nicklaus had three victories to go along with his seven runner-up finishes, and those seven second-place finishes are the record at any of the four majors.

Scoring Records at the British Open

Here are the tournament records that relate to scores - overall totals plus 18-hole and 9-hole scores, along with a few relating to margins, comebacks and the like.

Lowest Winning Scores
264 - Henrik Stenson, Royal Troon, 2016
267 - Greg Norman, Royal St George's, 1993
268 - Tom Watson, Turnberry, 1977
268 - Nick Price, Turnberry, 1994
268 - Jordan Spieth, Royal Birkdale, 2017
269 - Tiger Woods, St. Andrews, 2000
270 - Nick Faldo, St. Andrews, 1990; Tiger Woods, Royal Liverpool, 2006

Lowest Winning Scores in Relation to Par
20-under - Henrik Stenson, Royal Troon, 2016
19-under - Tiger Woods, St Andrews, 2000
18-under - Nick Faldo, St Andrews, 1990
18-under - Tiger Woods, Hoylake, 2006

Lowest 72-Hole Scores by Amateurs
281 - Iain Pyman, Royal St George's, 1993
281 - Tiger Woods, Royal Lytham, 1996
282 - Justin Rose, Royal Birkdale, 1998
282 - Matteo Manassero, Turnberry, 2009
283 - Guy Wolstenhome, St Andrews, 1960
283 - Lloyd Saltman, St Andrews, 2005

Lowest 18-Hole Score
62 - Branden Grace, third round, Royal Birkdale, 2017
63 - Mark Hayes, second round, Turnberry, 1977
63 - Isao Aoki, third round, Muirfield, 1980
63 - Greg Norman, second round, Turnberry, 1986
63 - Paul Broadhurst, third round, St. Andrews, 1990
63 - Jodie Mudd, fourth round, Royal Birkdale, 1991
63 - Nick Faldo, second round, Royal St. George's, 1993
63 - Payne Stewart, fourth round, Royal St George's, 1993
63 - Rory McIlroy, first round, St. Andrews, 2010
63 - Phil Mickelson, first round, Royal Troon, 2016
63 - Henrik Stenson, fourth round, Royal Troon, 2016
63 - Haotong Li, fourth round, Royal Birkdale, 2017

Lowest 9-Hole Score
28 - Denis Durnian, front nine, Royal Birkdale, 1983

Largest Margin of Victory
13 strokes - Old Tom Morris, 1862
12 strokes - Young Tom Morris, 1870
11 strokes - Young Tom Morris, 1869
8 strokes - J.H. Taylor, 1900
8 strokes - J.H. Taylor, 1913
8 strokes - James Braid, 1908
8 strokes - Tiger Woods 2000

Biggest Final-Round Comeback to Win
10 strokes - Paul Lawrie, 1999 (Lawrie began the final round 10 shots off the lead)

Biggest 54-Hole Lead Lost
5 strokes - Macdonald Smith, 1925; Jean Van de Velde, 1999

Most Career Rounds in the 60s
39 - Ernie Els
37 - Nick Faldo
33 - Jack Nicklaus

Age-Related Records at The Open

Following are records relating to the youngest and oldest champions, plus the youngest/oldest to play in this major.

Oldest Winners

  • Old Tom Morris, 1867, 46 years 99 days
  • Roberto de Vicenzo, 1967, 44 years 93 days
  • Harry Vardon, 1914, 44 years 41 days

Youngest Winners

  • Young Tom Morris, 1868, 17 years 5 months 8 days
  • Willie Auchterlonie, 1893, 21 years 24 days
  • Seve Ballesteros, 1979, 22 years 3 months 12 days

Youngest Competitor

  • Young Tom Morris, 14 years 4 months, 25 days, 1865

Oldest Competitor

  • Old Tom Morris, 74 years, 11 months, 24 days, 1896
  • Gene Sarazen, 74 years, 4 months, 9 days, 1976

More British Open Records Related to Winning and Top Finishes

Here are few more victory-related tournament records at the Open Championship:

Players Who Won the Open in Three Decades

  • Harry Vardon - 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914
  • J.H. Taylor - 1894, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913
  • Gary Player - 1959, 1968, 1974

Longest Span Between First and Last Wins
19 years - J.H. Taylor, 1894 – 1913
18 years - Harry Vardon, 1896 – 1914
15 years - Gary Player, 1959 – 74
15 years - Willie Park, 1860-75
14 years - Henry Cotton, 1934 - 48

Wire-to-Wire Winners
Leading after all four rounds, including ties for the lead:

  • Harry Vardon - 1899
  • J.H. Taylor - 1900
  • Harry Vardon - 1903
  • Lee Trevino - 1971
  • Gary Player - 1974

Holding the outright lead after each round:

Most Consecutive Wins
4 in a row - Young Tom Morris, 1868-72 (tournament not played in 1871)
3 in a row - Jamie Anderson, 1877-79
3 - Bob Ferguson, 1880-82
3 - Peter Thomson, 1954-56

Most Top-5 Finishes
16 - J.H Taylor
16 - Jack Nicklaus
15 - Harry Vardon
15 - James Braid

Miscellaneous Open Championship Records

And two bonus categories:

Most Appearances
46 - Gary Player
38 - Jack Nicklaus

Most Frequent Venues