June 2020 Update
The Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur at The Open Championship, provided they make the cut and complete all 72 holes.
It was first awarded in 1949 and in the 71 Championships since has been won 51 times by 45 different players. Prior to World War II amateurs were often amongst the leading competitors so a separate prize was not considered necessary.
The Silver Medal bears the inscription ‘Golf Champion Trophy’, with the edition of the words ‘First Amateur’.
Here is some background on the Silver Medal and a full list of the select group of past winners.
The Open Championship was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.
It is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf and the only one played outside the United States.
In July 2019 the 148th Open was played at Royal Portrush Golf Club. It was the second time the course and Northern Ireland had staged the Championship.
Amateurs In the Field
Nowadays the field is made up of 156 players. These are mainly professionals but there are always a handful of amateurs too.
Exemptions to both categories are given by The R&A based on previous wins / performances and world rankings. There are currently 27 exemption categories that provide c.110 players.
There are five amateur exemptions which are awarded to: –
– The Amateur Champion (current year).
– The European Amateur Champion (current year).
– The Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion (previous year).
– The Mark H. McCormack Medal Winner – Men’s WAGR (previous year).
– The United States Amateur Champion (previous year).
The remaining c.46 players have to play in The Open Qualifying Series (11 International events) or Regional (13 GB&I events) and Final Qualifying (4 GB events) to earn their places. Additional amateur players often come through these latter events.
Best Amateur Performances
Bobby Jones (USA) was the last amateur to win The Open Championship in 1930, his famous Grand Slam year. Jones had previously won the event in 1926 and 1927.
Prior to that The Open had been won by just two other amateurs – Englishmen John Ball (1890) and Harold Hilton (1892 and 1897).
Frank Stranahan (USA) finished runner-up in 1947 and 1953, behind Fred Daly and Ben Hogan respectively.
Reid Jack (SCO) finished tied 5th in 1959 before more recently Justin Rose (ENG) tied 4th in 1998 and Chris Wood (ENG) tied 5th in 2008.
Finally, who can forget Paul Dunne’s (IRL) performance at St. Andrews in 2015. Dunne was tied for the 54 hole lead after rounds of 69, 69 and 66 before sadly a final round 78 saw him slip down the field for an undeserved tied 30th finish.
Alfie Plant – Winner of the 2017 Silver Medal (Photo: @GolfMonthly)
The Silver Medal Winners
In the 71 Championships from 1949 to 2019 the Silver Medal has been won by 45 players on 51 occasions (all in bold in the table below).
The Medal has not been awarded on 20 occasions during this period when no amateur was able to make the cut.
Frank Stranahan (USA) won it four times in its first five years. He was also the low amateur in 1947 before it came into existence.
Joe Carr (IRL), Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) are the only other multiple winners, having each won it twice.
Since 1972 a Bronze Medal has also been awarded to any other amateurs who complete all four rounds.
Here is the complete list of Silver Medal winners: –
|1949||Royal St George’s||Frank Stranahan|
|1950||Troon||Frank Stranahan (2)|
|1951||Royal Portrush||Frank Stranahan (3)|
|1952||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Jackie Jones|
|1953||Carnoustie||Frank Stranahan (4)|
|1954||Royal Birkdale||Peter Toogood|
|1955||St Andrews||Joe Conrad|
|1956||Royal Liverpool||Joe Carr|
|1957||St Andrews||Dickson Smith|
|1958||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Joe Carr (2)|
|1960||St Andrews||Guy Wolstenholme|
|1961||Royal Birkdale||Ronnie White|
|1963||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Not awarded|
|1964||St Andrews||Not awarded|
|1965||Royal Birkdale||Michael Burgess|
|1967||Royal Liverpool||Not awarded|
|1969||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Peter Tupling|
|1970||St Andrews||Steve Melnyk|
|1971||Royal Birkdale||Michael Bonallack (2)|
|1974||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Not awarded|
|1976||Royal Birkdale||Not awarded|
|1978||St Andrews||Peter McEvoy|
|1979||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Peter McEvoy (2)|
|1981||Royal St George’s||Hal Sutton|
|1982||Royal Troon||Malcolm Lewis|
|1983||Royal Birkdale||Not awarded|
|1984||St Andrews||Not awarded|
|1985||Royal St George’s||José María Olazábal|
|1988||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Paul Broadhurst|
|1989||Royal Troon||Russell Claydon|
|1990||St Andrews||Not awarded|
|1991||Royal Birkdale||Jim Payne|
|1993||Royal St George’s||Iain Pyman|
|1995||St Andrews||Steve Webster|
|1996||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Tiger Woods|
|1997||Royal Troon||Barclay Howard|
|1998||Royal Birkdale||Justin Rose|
|2000||St Andrews||Not awarded|
|2001||Royal Lytham & St Annes||David Dixon|
|2003||Royal St George’s||Not awarded|
|2004||Royal Troon||Stuart Wilson|
|2005||St Andrews||Lloyd Saltman|
|2006||Royal Liverpool||Marius Thorp|
|2008||Royal Birkdale||Chris Wood|
|2010||St Andrews||Jin Jeong|
|2011||Royal St George’s||Tom Lewis|
|2012||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Not awarded|
|2014||Royal Liverpool||Not awarded|
|2015||St Andrews||Jordan Niebrugge|
|2016||Royal Troon||Not awarded|
|2017||Royal Birkdale||Alfie Plant|
|2019||Royal Portrush||Not awarded|
|2020||Royal St. George’s||Cancelled due to COVID-19|
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only Silver Medal winners to go on and become ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year’ too.
Hal Sutton (1983 P.G.A. Championship), José María Olazábal (1994 and 1999 Masters) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open) are other Silver Medal winners to have subsequently secured a major Championship.
Copyright © 2014-2020, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.