The 41st Open | 1901 Muirfield

Braid wins Claret Jug for the first time

Few golfers in the history of the game have dominated The Open quite like James Braid.

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Dressed in his signature tweed cap and Norfolk jacket, which was always worn with collar and tie, Braid was known for his stylish look as well as his stylish game.

The legendary Scotsman won the Claret Jug on five occasions - including back-to-back titles in 1905 and 1906 - and he was never out of the top 10 from his debut in 1894 until 1912. 

Along with fellow Open icons Harry Vardon and John Henry Taylor, Braid was one third of The Great Triumvirate that dominated golf in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The last of the big three to claim the Claret Jug, Braid was a relentless player who boasted incredible consistency and enviable talent.

Promise from an early age 

Born in Fife in 1870, Braid played golf from an early age despite his parent's lack of enthusiasm for the sport - first picking up a club at around the age of four at a local club. 

He originally trained as a carpenter and joiner upon leaving school at 13, before his interest in reconditioning old golf clubs saw him take up a position as a clubmaker in London. 

Following a successful spell as an amateur, Braid turned professional in 1896 and worked as a club professional in Romford before later moving to Walton Heath in Surrey. 

He made his Open debut at Royal St George's in 1894, recording a top-10 finish in his first outing, yet prior to the turn of the century Braid struggled to convert his immense potential into wins.

Switch works wonders

As a tall man, Braid was known for possessing a formidable long game and he could hit the ball huge distances compared to many of his rivals around at the time. 

Yet he was hampered by his inconsistent form on the greens as he experienced a number of near misses at The Open - finishing sixth in 1896, second in 1897, fifth in 1899 and third in 1900. 

That all changed when he switched from a wooden-headed putter to an aluminium-headed model in 1900, with his first Open title following a year later at Muirfield. 

Having previously found himself in the shadow of Vardon and Taylor, who had already won three Opens each by 1901, Braid began not just win - but dominate the rest of the field.

The crowning moment

At Muirfield, he hooked his first tee shot so badly it went over a wall and out of bounds but after that, there was hardly a mistake.

He went into the final round with a five-shot advantage over Vardon, with Taylor two further strokes behind, before eventually clinching the Claret Jug for the first time, by three strokes. 

The 72nd hole at The Open has always been one of the most dramatic settings in sport and Braid had his own moment with his final approach shot - as the shaft of the club splintered and the head flew off towards the clubhouse. Fortunately, the ball went where it was supposed to and he finished with a four to become Champion Golfer of the Year. 

Once he had overcome his initial trouble on the greens, Braid became a masterful putter.

Taylor said of his rival: "I have yet to meet the player who could hole the 10-yard putts with greater regularity."