The 9th Open | 1868 Prestwick

Young Tom follows in his father's footsteps

Young Tom Morris brought about a changing of the guard at The Open in 1868.

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Just a year after his father Old Tom Morris became Champion Golfer of the Year for the fourth time, the 17-year-old defeated him to be crowned the youngest winner in Open history.

Not only was he almost four years younger than anyone who has won the title before or since, his father finished second to him that same year in a one-of-a-kind family accomplishment.

Golf's first 'rock star'

Young Tom's victory was the first of four successive Open wins for the young prodigy, whose legacy as a golfing pioneer and the sport's first 'rock star' lives on to this day.

The build-up to The 9th Open had been all about Old Tom, who was the favourite to retain the title after becoming the oldest Champion Golfer, aged 46 years and 102 days old, at Prestwick a year earlier.

However, Young Tom was lurking in the wings after making his Open debut in 1865, having grown up at Prestwick, placing ninth a year later and finishing in fourth in 1867.

In fact, Morris Jnr had already demonstrated he was capable of beating his father by doing so when he was 13 years old, in a friendly game at St Andrews while Old Tom was the reigning Champion Golfer.

Making his fourth appearance at The Open, Young Tom took to the front early as he carded 51 in the opening round on the 12-hole course, the lowest score achieved at The Open.

It gave him a two-shot lead over Bob Andrew, but he found himself trailing going into the third round after his father and Willie Park Snr each posted a new record of 50 in their respective second rounds.

Saving the best for last

Old Tom led his son by one shot after Young Tom posted 54 the second time around, but the third and final round saw Morris Jnr come of age as he bettered the record again by shooting 49.

His round included four threes in five holes from the seventh and although he had a comfortable advantage going into the last, Young Tom went for the green in two and made a four.

He finished with an aggregate total of 154, eight strokes better than Andrew Strath's old record from 1865, while Old Tom was three shots adrift after closing with a 53 for 157 overall.

Young Tom's victory that year at Prestwick kicked off an unprecedented period of success for him at The Open - the likes of which has never been seen again since.

And while his death at the age of 24 cut his career tragically short, Morris Jnr's lasting impact on golf can still be felt today - a legacy kicked off by his memorable 1868 success.