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The Open Championship was first played on October 17, 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club

The inaugural tournament (commonly known as the British Open) was restricted to professionals. Those original eight played three rounds of the twelve-hole course in a one day. Willie Park Senior won with 174, beating favourite Old Tom Morris, by two strokes. Poor Willie won no money. In 1861, the tournament was opened to amateurs – eight joined the ten professionals.

It was only in 1863 that a purse was awarded – £10 or about $50 at the time. However, the winner didn’t even get to keep the money! It was shared between the second, third, and fourth placed professionals. The Champ got to keep the belt for a year. In 1864, Old Tom Morris won the first Champion’s cash prize of £6 (today it’s about $11). Today? £720,000 or $1,335,753.82.

http://www.opengolf.com/history/timeline.sps
http://www.opengolf.com/history/past_opens.sps?PartNo=1

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