|Dates||23–25 June 1926|
|Location||Lytham & St Annes, England|
|Course(s)||Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club|
|Field||117 players, 53 after cut|
|Bobby Jones (a)|
The 1926 Open Championship was the 61st Open Championship, held 23–25 June at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lytham St Annes, England. Amateur Bobby Jones won the first of his three Claret Jugs, two strokes ahead of runner-up Al Watrous. Jones was the first amateur to win the title in 29 years, last by Harold Hilton in 1897. Americans finished in the top four spots and it was the fifth victory by an American in six years.
This was the first Open Championship in which there was both qualifying and a 36-hole cut. A 36-hole cut had been introduced in 1898 to reduce numbers on the final day. However with an ever increasing number of entries, in 1907 the cut was replaced with a qualification competition. This had continued until 1925, except in 1910–11 when there was again no qualification but a 36-hole cut. To make the cut players would need to be within 14 strokes of the leader after 36 holes. A new rule by the The Royal and Ancient was also put into place in the 1926 Open Championship; it stated that no competitors would be allowed more than two practice rounds prior to the event. In the past some players had spent weeks on the championship course practicing. This new rule allowed the American players to compete on more equal terms with the British entrants.
This was also the first time there was regional qualifying. A southern section played at Sunningdale, a central section at St Annes Old Links and a northern section at Western Gailes. Each section played 36 holes, although for the southern and central sections this took place on two days (16–17 June) while for the northern section it was on just one day (16 June). 49 places (and ties) were allocated to the southern section, 42 places (and ties) to the central section and 10 places (and ties) to the northern section. 55 players qualified from the southern section, 51 from the central section and 11 from the northern section giving a total of 117. Tom Wilson won the northern section with a score of 148. In the southern section Bobby Jones dominated, scoring 134 (66-68) and leading by seven clear strokes. During the two rounds on only one hole did he score more than four, a five at the 10th in his second round. After his first round of 66, The Times reported that "the crowd dispersed awe-stricken. They had watched the best round they had ever seen, or ever would see, and what the later players did they neither knew nor cared". Walter Hagen led the central section with a score of 143, one of nine Americans qualifying there.
Hagen opened with 68 on Wednesday to take the lead, but a 77 in the second round dropped him back to third. In his second Open and already the winner of two U.S. Amateurs and a U.S. Open, Jones played steady golf and carded two rounds of 72 to co-lead with Bill Mehlhorn at the midway point. Hagen was a stroke back and one behind him were Watrous and Fred McLeod.
Jones had 73 in the third round on Friday morning, but Watrous shot 69 and took a two-stroke lead after 54 holes. In the final round that afternoon, Jones was still two behind Watrous with five holes to play. After picking up two strokes to forge a tie, Jones hit a wayward drive on 17 which appeared to swing the tournament back to Watrous. However, Jones hit a remarkable recovery shot from the sand dunes onto the green, closer to the hole than Watrous' approach from the fairway. Jones wound up taking the decisive lead in the tournament on this hole after Watrous three-putted. Jones played the tough final 5 holes in 4-3-4-4-4 to post 74 for 291, while Watrous struggled to 78 and 293. Hagen, playing behind Jones and Watrous, had a chance to tie by holing his second shot on the 18th, but his shot rolled past the hole and into a bunker and he settled for third place.
Jones, age 24, won his first Open Championship in just his second appearance. His first was five years earlier in 1921 and was less than pleasant: he walked off the Old Course at St Andrews in frustration after taking several shots to get out of a bunker. He went on to win two more Opens; his successful defense in 1927 was back at the Old Course, and his third in 1930 at Royal Liverpool was the second leg of his celebrated grand slam. Its first leg was the 1930 British Amateur, won three weeks earlier, Jones' win 91 years ago in 1930 is the last by an amateur.
For the first time, an admission fee was charged for spectators. Six-time champion Harry Vardon missed his first cut in the Open Championship at age 56; he had made the cut in every Open he played since 1893.
Past champions in the field
Made the cut
|Walter Hagen||United States||1922, 1924||68||77||74||76||295||T3|
|J.H. Taylor||England||1894, 1895
1900, 1909, 1913
|James Braid||Scotland||1901, 1905,
1906, 1908, 1910
Missed the cut
|Harry Vardon||Jersey||1896, 1898, 1899,
1903, 1911, 1914
Did not enter:
Wednesday, 23 June 1926
|1||Walter Hagen||United States||68|
|2||Bill Mehlhorn||United States||70|
|T3||Fred McLeod|| Scotland
|Al Watrous||United States|
|5||Bobby Jones (a)||United States||72|
|T8||Tommy Armour|| Scotland
|George Von Elm (a)||United States|
Thursday, 24 June 1926
|T1||Bobby Jones (a)||United States||72-72=144|
|Bill Mehlhorn||United States||70-74=144|
|3||Walter Hagen||United States||68-77=145|
|T4||Fred McLeod|| Scotland
|Al Watrous||United States||71-75=146|
|6||George Von Elm (a)||United States||75-72=147|
|T7||Tommy Armour|| Scotland
|Cyril Walker||United States||79-71=150|
Friday, 25 June 1926 (morning)
|1||Al Watrous||United States||71-75-69=215|
|2||Bobby Jones (a)||United States||72-72-73=217|
|3||Walter Hagen||United States||68-77-74=219|
|4||Fred McLeod|| Scotland
|T5||Bill Mehlhorn||United States||70-74-79=223|
|George Von Elm (a)||United States||75-72-76=223|
|T8||Tommy Armour|| Scotland
|Emmet French||United States||76-75-74=225|
Friday, 25 June 1926 (afternoon)
|1||Bobby Jones (a)||United States||72-72-73-74=291||0|
|2||Al Watrous||United States||71-75-69-78=293||75|
|T3||Walter Hagen||United States||68-77-74-76=295||40|
|George Von Elm (a)||United States||75-72-76-72=295||0|
|7||Fred McLeod|| Scotland
|T8||Emmet French||United States||76-75-74-78=303||8|
|Bill Mehlhorn||United States||70-74-79-80=303|
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- Brenner, Morgan G. (2009). The Majors of Golf: Complete Results of the Open, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and the Masters, 1860-2008. 1. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3360-5.