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14 things every golf enthusiast should know about the British Open

The British Open takes place this year at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, in the north-west of England. The tournament is the 146th British Open and takes place from 16th - 23rd July. It is expected to attract huge crowds from all over the UK and beyond. The previous two British Opens have taken place in Scotland, with last year's event held at the Royal Troon in Troon and won by Sweden's Henrik Stenson. The 2015 tournament took place at the Old Course at St. Andrews, and was won by Zach Johnson.

The British Open is part of the golf Grand Slam

The British Open is one of golf's four Grand Slam events. The other tournaments that make up the Grand Slam are the US Open, the PGA Championships and the Masters. All are huge events in the golfing calendar that attract crowds of thousands and TV audiences of many millions all over the world. The British Open is the oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and is also the only one that takes place outside of the United States.

In 2015, the final day's play wasn't completed until the Monday

Poor weather conditions including heavy rain and strong gales meant the final round was delayed, and play was not completed until the Monday, something that had happened on only one previous occasion in 155 years - in 1988. Bad weather on the Friday and Saturday meant play was suspended on both days. Zach Johnson of the US was eventually victorious and took home the trophy after a three-way play-off.

The British Open isn't the tournament's official name

Somewhat confusingly, although it is commonly referred to as the British Open by much of the media all over the world, the tournament's actual name is the Open Championship. The Open is the third major of the annual golfing calendar, and takes place each year in mid-July. It is played in the period between the US Open and the PGA Championship.

156 players start the tournament

The British Open features 156 of the world's top golfers each year. Of these players, the top 70 players will qualify and go on to compete for the tournament's final 36 holes.

The winner's name is engraved on the Claret Jug

The trophy's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but it's more famously referred to as the Claret Jug. The history of the Claret Jug dates back to 1872, when the tournament required a new trophy. Young Tom Morris had won the Open three years on the run, and had therefore been presented with the Challenge Belt, the tournament's original prize. A new trophy was designed, but it wasn't ready to be presented to the champion (Young Tom Morris, winning for a fourth consecutive time as it happened) at the end of the tournament. His name was still engraved on the trophy, but he wasn't formally presented with it as other players have been since.

The Claret Jug has been featured on the Scottish £5 note twice - once in 2004 and again in 2005.

The first ever Open was in 1860

The first ever British Open took place at Prestwick Golf Club, Scotland in October of 1860. Unlike today when there are over 150 competitors, the first ever tournament featured just eight golfers, all of them male.

As of May 2016, Muirfield Golf Club can no longer host the Open. The club's members held a much-publicised vote on whether or not to admit female members. The club voted against admitting women, and therefore the British Open organisers said the club has lost its right to host the tournament. The club has said it plans to hold another vote at a later date.

The Open has previously been cancelled due to war

Although the British Open was founded nearly 160 years ago, it has not been held every single year during that period. The event was cancelled between 1915 and 1919 due to World War I. It was then cancelled again between 1940 and 1945 after the outbreak of World War II. This explains why this year's tournament is only the 146th British Open.

Royal Troon only voted to admit women in 2016

In July 2016, the Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland held a vote on admitting female members. The club's members voted in favour of admitting women, unlike Muirfield Golf Club which held a vote a couple of months earlier. This means Royal Troon is still permitted to host the British Open, despite being the last of all the event's roster of clubs to admit female players.

Harry Vardon has won the most British Opens

Harry Vardon has won the British Open a record six times. Vardon was from Jersey and first won the Open in 1896. He won it again in both 1898 and 1899, then went on the win the US Open in 1900. He then won the British Open again in 1903, 1911 and 1914. He is often considered to be the world's first golf superstar after Young Tom Morris. His rivalry with J. H. Taylor and James Braid was legendary and hugely increased interest in golf among the media and the general public. He finished as runner-up in the US Open twice, in 1913 and 1920.

Jack Nicklaus has been runner-up the most times

The American Jack Nicklaus, one of the game's most famous players ever, has been runner-up in the British Open an incredible seven times. He has also won it three times, however, with his name appearing on the Claret Jug in 1966, 1970 and 1978.

Gary Player has made the most appearances

South African golfer Gary Player has made the most appearances at the tournament, and has taken part an impressive 46 times in total. Not only that, but he played for a record 52 times in the Masters, too. He appeared in his final Masters in 2009, having missed just one year since 1957 - 1973, when he was recuperating after surgery.

The oldest British Open champion was 46 years old

Tom Morris Senior, often referred to as Old Tom Morris, became the oldest champion of the tournament back in 1867. He was aged 46 years and 99 days. He had previously won the event three times, in 1861, 1862 and 1864. Golf dominated much of his life, and he was hired as an apprentice by Allan Robertson - whom many consider to be the first professional golfer in the world - at the age of 14.

The youngest British Open champion was just 17 years old

Strangely, the youngest ever winner of the Open was Tom Morris Junior, more commonly known as Young Tom Morris. He was the son of the tournament's oldest champion, Old Tom Morris, or Tom Morris Senior. Like his father, Young Tom Morris won the British Open four times: in 1868, 1869, 1870 and 1872. Tragically, Young Tom died many years before his father, at the age of just 24 on Christmas Day in 1875. His wife and baby died during childbirth four months earlier, and it is believed this contributed to his premature death.