The 18th Open | 1878 Prestwick

An under-appreciated three-time Champion

The early years of The Open were dominated by players who became known as all-time greats, but one man often forgotten is Jamie Anderson, a three-time Champion Golfer and two-time runner-up.

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Unlike Young Tom Morris, whose natural talent carried him to the top of the game as soon as he was old enough to swing a club competitively, Anderson was something of a late bloomer.

But when he did bloom, he left the rest of the field trailing in his wake. By 1878 - the year of his second Open victory - he was undoubtedly the best player around.

Golf genes

Like so many of the early Champion Golfers, the game ran in Anderson's blood.

He was born in St Andrews in 1842, the son of David 'Daw' Anderson - a greenkeeper at the Old Course who would have undoubtedly worked alongside Old Tom Morris.

Anderson Jr first started playing at St Andrews aged 10, while also assisting his father sell ginger beer from a portable cart.  

Indeed, the sight of them selling their drink was so familiar, the Old Course renamed their par-4 fourth hole 'Ginger Beer'.

Anderson did more than just assist his old man. He also worked as an apprentice in his early life and mastered the art of club making.

However, to anyone who saw him play, it was obvious it was on the course where he really excelled.

A stunning finish

Having finished as the runner-up to Tom Kidd in 1873, Anderson first captured the Claret Jug at Musselburgh Links in 1877 aged 35.

The following year, he not only retained his title, but did so in the most thrilling fashion imaginable.

On the 12-hole course at Prestwick, he looked to be in a battle with J O F Morris, Young Tom's little brother, to be the Champion Golfer of the Year.

J O F reached the Prestwick clubhouse in 161 shots, leaving Anderson - four holes back - needing to finish in 17 strokes to tie Morris.

Anderson had played the seventh and eighth holes in 15, suggesting he had a tough task ahead of him, yet on the ninth he produced a piece of magic in poor weather, launching his approach shot towards the narrow green from 150 yards.

He breathed a sigh of relief when it landed safely on target and then celebrated wildly when it rolled into the hole for a three.

After he had made four on the 10th, even greater drama followed on the par-3 11th, when a watching child noticed Anderson was about to hit his tee shot from ahead of the markers - an error that would have meant instant disqualification.

After replacing his ball, Anderson swung hard and carried the ball to the back of the green before watching it roll gently back down the slope and in for a miraculous hole-in-one.

A simple five on the last saw Anderson finish four ahead of Morris and he ultimately won by two from Bob Kirk, retaining his title. 

The Champion Golfer of 1877 and 1878 duly completed a hat-trick of wins in 1879 at St Andrews. 

While the name of Anderson may not be as well-known in golfing circles as Morris and Park, there can be no doubting Jamie's status as one of The Open's great Champions.