The 52nd Open | 1912 Muirfield

Powerful Ray follows Vardon's lead

Thumping the ball long distances off the tee was a part of golf way before the likes of current big-hitters Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy were around.

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In fact, for many, Ted Ray is considered the original long driver, having become renowned for his impressive distance and attacking style on his way to becoming Champion Golfer of the Year in 1912.

Born in 1877 on the isle of Jersey, Ray was often overshadowed during his career by his fellow Jerseyman and friend Harry Vardon, along with the rest of The Great Triumvirate.

They grew up in the same parish of Grouville, learning the game on the local links together, before Ray followed Vardon into professional life in England, succeeding him as the pro at Ganton in North Yorkshire.

And while Vardon stole most of the headlines around the turn of the 20th century as he dominated the Championship with James Braid and J.H. Taylor, Ray was always there or thereabouts.

He registered six consecutive top-10 finishes from 1906 to 1911, with his best finish before winning the Claret Jug a placing of third behind Braid at Prestwick in 1908.

After watching Vardon become Champion Golfer five times, Ray finally got his moment in the sun at The 52nd Open in 1912 as he bested his friend by four strokes at Muirfield.

The course had been lengthened to a massive 6,425 yards but it was no match for Ray, who stood at over 6ft tall, weighed in at 16 stone and was a ferocious hitter.

His advice for achieving greater distance was simple: "Hit the ball a bloody sight harder."

This theory paid off from the very start for Ray at the East Lothian venue, as he took a one-shot lead over Scotland's George Duncan after the opening round with a score of 71.

He followed that up with a 73 in the second round to move three shots ahead of Vardon, with the defending Champion Golfer moving into second with a 72 following his first-round 75.

Ray showed no signs of letting up, however, posting 76 in the third round for an Open-record 54-hole score of 220 and a five-stroke lead over Braid as Vardon (81) dropped to tied-fourth.

And, despite going out early in the fourth round, Ray - in his trademark tight-fitting jacket with a trilby firmly in place on his head - finished with a 75 to secure the Claret Jug.

Vardon rallied after his disappointing third round to close with 71 and beat Braid to the runner-up spot, but this time Ray would not be denied.

His was the first 'wire-to-wire' victory achieved by leading outright after each round since The Open was extended to 72 holes, with McIlroy becoming only the seventh Champion to achieve this feat in 2014.

In 1920, Ray also became the second British player after Vardon to win the U.S. Open as well as The Open, a feat not matched again until Tony Jacklin in 1970.