The 14th Open | 1874 Musselburgh

Young Tom's final Open comes all too soon

The 1874 Open provided a number of firsts for golf's original Major.

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It was the first Championship played at Musselburgh Links, which became only the third Open host after Prestwick and St Andrews, while a new Champion Golfer of the Year was also crowned.

Mungo Park followed in the footsteps of his brother Willie Park Snr - the winner of The 1st Open - by claiming the prestigious title in his maiden Championship appearance.

But the 14th edition of The Open is also known for being the last graced by four-time Champion Golfer of the Year Young Tom Morris, who finished second behind Park.

Considered one of the pioneers of professional golf, Young Tom won four consecutive Opens between 1868 and 1872 to etch his name into Championship folklore.

That feat, achieved by the age of 21, remains unmatched to this day and saw Morris end his father's own remarkable dominance of the coveted prize by winning his first title in 1868.

The youngest Open Champion in history at just 17 years old, he went on to change the face of golf as we know it today, but his incredible story concluded with a tragic denouement.

Three years after his last Open success in 1872, and a year after getting married, Morris Jnr's wife Margaret and baby both died during childbirth while he was playing an exhibition match.

He and his father missed The 1875 Open to grieve, before Young Tom tragically died on Christmas Day at the age of 24 as one of golf's great careers was cut cruelly short.

The official cause of death was pulmonary haemorrhage causing apnea, according to his death certificate, although it is often said that his fate was the result of a broken heart.

Before that heart-breaking final chapter, Young Tom had proved typically impressive in what would prove to be his final appearance at The Open.

He started in solid but unspectacular fashion around the four loops of the nine-hole course at Musselburgh.

Paired with his dad's great rival Willie Park, Morris Jnr returned scores of 42 and 41 for a total of 83 at the halfway stage - the same score as his playing partner.

Mungo Park, on the other hand, hit the ground running and opened up a four-shot advantage over nearest competitor George McCachnie with his total of 75, following nine-hole scores of 37 and 38.

His lead over Morris Jnr was eight shots and, while Mungo Park's putting touch deserted him over the next 18 holes, his 84 strokes - from rounds of 43 and 41 - posted a challenging overall total of 159.

Willie Park slipped further out of contention with 87 over the second 18 holes, finishing 11 shots behind his brother, but Young Tom got better as the day progressed.

His third round of 39 closed the gap to four with nine holes to play and, going into the final stretch, he was the only man who was capable of catching Park at the top of the leaderboard.

However, a missed short putt at the penultimate hole and two dropped shots at the last proved costly as Park prevailed by two strokes.