When it comes to the traditional "Fall Classic," Americans equate that with the World Series, which has been around in its present form since 1903. And most golf fans think of the Open Championship as having a late summer place on the golfing calendar.
But that wasn't always the case. On Oct. 4, 1873 -- 141 years ago today -- two traditions began that are the pinnacle of any golfer's career aspirations. First, the Open Championship was held at St. Andrews for the first of 28 times. And second, winner Tom Kidd was presented with a new silver claret jug.
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According to the Open Championship's official website, the trophy for winning the inaugural Open Championship at Prestwick in 1860 was a silver belt donated by the Earl of Eglinton, with the idea that the first man to win the Open three consecutive times would own it. That happened just 10 years later, when Tom Morris Jr. accompished the feat.
There was no Open held in 1871, so the committee formed to come up with a new trophy had until the next May to determine how to proceed. This is from the Open Championship's website:
According to the minutes of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, dated May 1, state that the green committee had been “empowered to enter into communication with other clubs with a view to effecting a revival of the Championship Belt, and they were authorised to contribute a sum not exceeding £15 from the funds of the club."
Agreement was finally reached on Sept. 11, 1872 between the three clubs that were to host The Open — Prestwick, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. They decided that the winner would receive a medal and that each of the three clubs would contribute £10 towards the cost of a new trophy, which was to be a silver claret jug, instead of another belt.
Its proper name was to be The Golf Champion Trophy. These decisions were taken too late for the trophy to be presented to the 1872 Open Champion, who was once again Tom Morris Jr. Instead, he was awarded with a medal inscribed ‘The Golf Champion Trophy’.
So on Oct. 4, 1873 at St. Andrews, Kidd outlasted a field of 26, shooting a two-round total of 179 to beat Jamie Anderson by one stroke after heavy rains swamped the course overnight. In those days, there was a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball from casual water.
Afterwards, he was awarded the claret jug. But Kidd's name was not the first to be engraved on the trophy. Instead, that honor went to Tom Morris Jr., who had won the previous Open.