The 23rd Open | 1883 Musselburgh

Fernie and Ferguson compete in first play-off

The first play-off in Open history decided the 23rd edition of the Championship.

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Seven years earlier, Davie Strath had refused to participate in a play-off with Bob Martin at St Andrews after the two players had finished locked on 176 from their two rounds.

That controversial conclusion handed the title to Martin and meant that when Willie Fernie and Bob Ferguson found themselves tied in 1883, they broke new ground for The Open.

Three-time winner and defending Champion Golfer Bob Ferguson went into the Championship bidding to etch his name alongside Young Tom Morris in the record books with a fourth successive win.

Ferguson was returning to his home course of Musselburgh Links, the scene of his first Claret Jug success in 1880.

But despite appearing to be the overwhelming favourite on paper, Ferguson was denied by the man who had finished runner-up to him a year earlier at St Andrews.

Originally from St Andrews before becoming a professional in Dumfries, Fernie opened the Championship with nine-hole round totals of 38 and 37 to lead from the front at the midway point.

Willie Park Jnr was his nearest rival after the first 18 holes, two shots back on 77, while local favourite Ferguson trailed by a further shot after posting nines of 38 and 40.

Fernie continued to look in good shape throughout his third round of 40 - even with an eight at the third hole - but disaster struck on the second hole of his final round, where he ran up a 10.

Having found the long grass off the tee, Fernie was then troubled by a sand hole, a bunker and a whin bush, from where he played an excellent recovery shot before missing a short putt.

He posted a final round of 43 for a total of 158, which Ferguson was able to match with third and fourth rounds of 42 and 38 to ensure The Open would be decided by a play-off for the first time.

Taking place the next day, the play-off was contested over another 36 holes - or four more loops of the nine-hole course - and proved a similarly tight and tense showdown.

A large crowd turned out to watch despite light rain falling during the first and last rounds, as Fernie took the lead at the halfway stage once again with 81 strokes to Ferguson's 82.

The third nine saw Ferguson overhaul Fernie, shooting 37 to his rival's 39 to edge narrowly ahead and he ultimately took a one-shot lead into the play-off's final scheduled hole.

However, Ferguson missed the green with his tee shot and ended up making four, while Fernie found the putting surface and rolled in a long attempt for a two.

Fernie had done enough to prevail by one, with a total of 158 to Ferguson's 159, as a thrilling Championship concluded with another new name on the Claret Jug.