History Says A Star Will Win British Open at Royal Liverpool

Rory McIlroy, 2023 Open Championship,Royal Liverpool,Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy, 2023 Open Championship,Royal Liverpool,Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the years it’s become apparent that some courses give us winners that are unexpected, like Los Angeles CC did with Wyndham Clark. But it’s not alone. Olympic Club in San Francisco has yet to deliver a favorite for a U.S. Open. It’s chosen Billy Casper over Arnold Palmer. Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan. Scott Simpson over Tom Watson and more recently Webb Simpson over Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, David Toms, and Ernie Els.

That sort of thing is unlikely to happen at Royal Liverpool. Since it began hosting important tournaments, especially the British Open, it has typically delivered someone popular with the fans. It has not happened every time, but more often than not a marquis name holds up the Claret Jug at the end.

Royal Liverpool, it seems, loves the stars.

In the early days of competitive golf, amateurs were able to defeat professionals at the most important tournaments. One of the best from this era, Harold Hilton, was a member at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Hilton won the British Open twice. In 1897, his second victory, he won it at Royal Liverpool, becoming the second amateur and second Royal Liverpool member to win the British Open. The other was also an amateur, John Ball, but he did not win at Hoylake.

Hilton went on to a career in golf writing and editing. He was co-author of The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf published in 1912. In addition, he was the first editor of the British publication Golf Monthly and also was editor of Golf Illustrated.

Beginning in the early teens of the 20th century, more stars of golf took titles at Royal Liverpool. In 1913, J.H. Taylor, one of Britain’s Great Triumvirate of golf that included Harry Vardon and James Braid, won the British Open at Royal Liverpool.

It was Taylor’s fifth British Open victory, one less than the exceptional Harry Vardon who would go on to win six in all.

Royal Liverpool, British Open, Bobby Jones, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, 2023 Open Championship
Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, James Braid, and J.H. Taylor. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Eleven years later, in 1924, Walter Hagen made his way to the west coast of England and defeated all comers at the British Open. It was Hagen’s fifth major championship of the 11 he would eventually win.

What became one of the most famous British Open victories at Royal Liverpool was by Bobby Jones. It was his third title in the championship, and his second major victory in his 1930 season, the year of the Grand Slam.

In 1956, the legendary Australian, Peter Thomson won his third British Open in a row at Royal Liverpool. Thomson would go on to win two more and tie Taylor with five victories. Both remained one back of Vardon.

By 1967, more modern names creep into the record books. Roberto Di Vicenzo, who was 44 at the time, won his only major championship at Royal Liverpool. A year later, in 1968, Di Vicenzo would sign an incorrect scorecard and hand the Masters title to Bob Goalby.

One of the best players, if not the best ever, Tiger Woods, came to Royal Liverpool for the British Open in 2006. The course was a crispy and pale, “blonde” some have recently called it. Woods decided to take all the bunkers out of play because being in them was just too great a risk to his score.

He used a driver only one time that week and held off Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, and Chris DiMarco for the victory, his third British Open win.

By 2014, a new group of golfers had come to the fore, including Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. While Woods had chosen to hit in front of the location of the bunkers, McIlroy hit over everything, letting his driver do the talking. The victory was McIlroy’s first British Open title and his fourth major championship.

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Looking at what has happened at Royal Liverpool in past British Opens, it is hard to pick a newcomer or unknown player as most likely to win. Leave the upsets to Olympic Club. Royal Liverpool prefers the stars.