The 40th Open | 1900 St Andrews

Taylor dominates the field and his two great rivals

Harry Vardon was unquestionably the man to beat when The 40th Open took place at St Andrews, but the defending Champion had to be content with second place on this occasion as J.H. Taylor produced arguably the finest performance of his illustrious career.

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Although Taylor had previously won The Open in 1894 and 1895, the Devonian was repeatedly bested in the years that followed by his friend and rival Vardon, who lifted the Claret Jug in 1896, 1898 and 1899 either side of a second victory for the amateur Harold Hilton.

However, even the great Vardon was a distant second-best in June 1900, as Taylor recorded the most emphatic win at The Open in 30 years.

Taylor and Vardon each began the Championship with rounds of 79 to share the lead with the latter's brother, Tom.

After recording the equal-lowest score of the first morning, Taylor continued a remarkable display of sustained excellence by managing the outright best total in each of the subsequent three rounds.

A 77 in round two lifted him into a four-shot lead and Taylor was six clear when he shot 78 in round three.

However, he saved his best performance until the final afternoon, finishing with a 75 - the best score to date in Opens at the Old Course - to finish eight ahead of Vardon and 13 shots better off than the third-placed James Braid.

"It was a victory due to superb golf in every department of the game," read a report in The Scotsman.

Prior to the Championship of 1900, there had only been five sub-80 rounds at St Andrews, with Taylor responsible for two of them.

By managing four successive scores in the 70s around the Old Course, Taylor made it clear he was a truly special talent.

He and Vardon had now combined for an equal share of six Open wins in seven years and there were still plenty more successes to come.