The 15th Open | 1875 Prestwick

Park prevails once again

The very first Champion Golfer, Willie Park Snr, claimed a fourth and final Open victory in 1875 at Prestwick, cementing his status as an all-time great.

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Park's success in The 15th Open saw him draw level with the two Tom Morrises as a four-time winner of golf's original Championship.

Sadly, neither Old Tom nor Young Tom were able to compete on this occasion. Both men were mourning in St Andrews after Young Tom's wife died in childbirth, along with their baby.

In their absence, Park was among the favourites as he aimed to add to the victories he had claimed in 1860, 1863 and 1866.

The very first Champion Golfer set the pace in round one, his score of 56 for 12 holes matched only by Bob Martin.

However, Martin and Bob Ferguson pulled ahead in the second round, shooting 58 and 56 respectively as Park slipped to a 59.

Park's response could hardly have been more emphatic as he produced a tremendous finish to turn a one-shot deficit into a two-stroke victory.

Despite starting his final round with a seven, Park duly charged into pole position for the Claret Jug as he combined several threes with a rare two.

A sub-50 score appeared within Park's reach as he came to the last, but he had to settle for a 51 after going out of bounds with his tee shot, nevertheless posting a stiff target of 166 that would not be beaten.

"Park played a brilliant game over the concluding round," read a report on the Championship in The Scotsman.

"Indeed, had it not been that he lost two strokes by getting off the course in the 'home' hole, his last round would have stood at 49 - play which has only been equalled once in a professional match, and that by Tommy Morris."

Martin proved the closest rival to Park in 1875 as he finished with a 54 to total 168, but The Open now had a third four-time Champion.

To this day, Willie Park Snr remains one of The Open's all-time greats, with only five players having won golf's original Championship more often.