The Open Championship’s Silver Medal

2nd May 2018

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 69 Championships since has been won 50 times by 44 different players.

Here’s some background on the Silver Medal and a full list of the select group of past winners.

History

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 2018 the 147th Open will be played at Carnoustie Golf Links. It will be the eighth time this famous course in Angus, Scotland will have 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 (IRE) 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.

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Alfie Plant – Winner of the 2017 Silver Medal (Photo: @GolfMonthly)

The Silver Medal Winners

In the 69 Championships from 1949 to 2017 the Silver Medal has been won by 44 players on 50 occasions (all in bold in the table below).

The Medal has not been awarded on 19 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 (IRE), 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: –

Year Venue  Winner
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)
1959 Muirfield  Reid Jack
1960 St Andrews  Guy Wolstenholme
1961 Royal Birkdale  Ronnie White
1962 Troon  Charlie Green
1963 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
1964 St Andrews  Not awarded
1965 Royal Birkdale  Michael Burgess
1966 Muirfield  Ronnie Shade
1967 Royal Liverpool  Not awarded
1968 Carnoustie  Michael Bonallack
1969 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Peter Tupling
1970 St Andrews  Steve Melnyk
1971 Royal Birkdale  Michael Bonallack (2)
1972 Muirfield  Not awarded
1973 Troon  Danny Edwards
1974 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
1975 Carnoustie  Not awarded
1976 Royal Birkdale  Not awarded
1977 Turnberry  Not awarded
1978 St Andrews  Peter McEvoy
1979 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Peter McEvoy (2)
1980 Muirfield  Jay Sigel
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
1986 Turnberry  Not awarded
1987 Muirfield  Paul Mayo
1988 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Paul Broadhurst
1989 Royal Troon  Russell Claydon
1990 St Andrews  Not awarded
1991 Royal Birkdale  Jim Payne
1992 Muirfield  Daren Lee
1993 Royal St George’s  Iain Pyman
1994 Turnberry  Warren Bennett
1995 St Andrews  Steve Webster
1996 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Tiger Woods
1997 Royal Troon  Barclay Howard
1998 Royal Birkdale  Justin Rose
1999 Carnoustie  Not awarded
2000 St Andrews  Not awarded
2001 Royal Lytham & St Annes  David Dixon
2002 Muirfield  Not awarded
2003 Royal St George’s  Not awarded
2004 Royal Troon  Stuart Wilson
2005 St Andrews  Lloyd Saltman
2006 Royal Liverpool  Marius Thorp
2007 Carnoustie  Rory McIlroy
2008 Royal Birkdale  Chris Wood
2009 Turnberry  Matteo Manassero
2010 St Andrews  Jin Jeong
2011 Royal St George’s  Tom Lewis
2012 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
2013 Muirfield  Matthew Fitzpatrick
2014 Royal Liverpool  Not awarded
2015 St Andrews  Jordan Niebrugge
2016 Royal Troon  Not awarded
2017 Royal Birkdale  Alfie Plant
2018 Carnoustie  Sam Locke

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.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Rory McIlroy and the BBC’s 2014 SPOTY Award

15th December 2014 

Rory McIlroy’s unparalleled sporting achievements and friendly personality should have made him a certainty to be crowned the BBC’s 2014 Sports Personality Of The Year (SPOTY) at last night’s Award Show in Glasgow.  To win two Major Championships in succession, to name just his main achievements this year, and not win is astonishing to me.

What was equally surprising was the number and share of votes cast.  Of the 620,932 votes cast – which doesn’t appear to be that many when one considers the millions watching on TV – Hamilton secured 209,920 (33.8%) with McIlroy ‘only’ receiving 123,745 (19.9%).  This was therefore not a close contest between the two outstanding candidates.

Lewis Hamilton SPOTY 2014

Lewis Hamilton – 2014 SPOTY Winner 

I do not wish to ignore the achievements of the winner Lewis Hamilton who is clearly a superb racing driver – albeit one in my eyes without a particularly endearing personality.  His decision to turn up with Roscoe his dog on the night and the inappropriate plug for his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger’s new musical being indicative of his lack of self-awareness.  This year, as is often the case in Formula 1 (F1), he clearly benefitted from a superior Mercedes car and as such his competition was essentially limited to his ‘team mate’, Nico Rosberg.  If Lewis had won the F1 World Championship driving a Marussia or Sauber car then perhaps there may have been a discussion to be had.  It was essentially his or Nico’s to lose from the first race.

So why didn’t the British public vote for Rory and what does this say about the SPOTY Award and more importantly golf in the United Kingdom ?  The whole debacle has raised a number of questions.

1) Why didn’t the British public vote for Lewis rather than Rory despite knowing the former had a technological edge over all but one of his very small number of competitors ?

2) Why didn’t they appreciate the magnitude of Rory’s achievements and the level of competition he faced, which were exceptional to anyone that knows golf and sport ?

3) Could or should the BBC have done more to emphasise the extraordinary achievements of Rory in their golf summary ?  Should the UK golfing community have shouted more about the exceptional year Rory has had ?  Is golf’s PR good enough ?

Rory McIlroy SPOTY 2014

Rory McIlroy – 2014 SPOTY Runner Up 

4) Did complacency set in.  I voted for Rory but how many golf fans watching didn’t bother ?  The golfing fraternity has been enraged today but could we all have done more to whip up the votes last night ?

5) Does the timing of the SPOTY awards play in to the hands of other sports.  F1 certainly appears to have out performed most sports over the years.  The F1 season reaches its climax just a few weeks before the show whereas the Major Championships in golf are all done and dusted by August.

6) Does the voting options of phones and online suit the younger generation and therefore more fashionable sports like F1 ?  Is this further evidence of golf becoming an older person’s retirement sport ?

7) Is the vote indicative of a game in real decline in the UK with golf club membership levels falling and the various authorities struggling to turn the tide ?  Is this another wake up call ?  Is golf fast becoming a minority sport in the UK ?

8) Is the lack of golf on terrestrial TV a problem ?  Sky’s coverage is superb but if no one is watching then interest and ultimately participation must start to decline.  F1 despite selling their full rights to Sky has still retained a good foothold on the BBC too.  I called for the R&A to sell The Open rights to Sky as soon as possible after the result last night but this may ultimately prove counter-productive in the long-term.

9) Should the British public be left to decide matters such as SPOTY or would a judging panel supported by a public voting process ensure some proper quality control ?  It is of course easy (and unfair) to blame the general public for their ignorance but the fact that Paul McGinley was golf’s only SPOTY winner on the night, in a category that frankly he isn’t in any way qualified for, suggests that using a judging panel may also not be the answer.

10) Has the SPOTY award passed its sell by date ?  The BBC has next to no sports coverage nowadays and therefore increasingly struggles to showcase it.  The segment on cycling and the Tour de France’s Le Grande Departe – arguably the sporting highlight of 2014 – was pitiful last night.  Doesn’t British sport deserve something better than this increasingly dated programme ?

12) Is it time for Sky – now the real home of UK Sports broadcasting – to come up with a more compelling and credible award / show, whose recipients can stand up to the toughest scrutiny ?

Rory generously appears to have taken the defeat on the chin but who would blame him if he made his excuses next time a SPOTY invite comes his way.  I wouldn’t.

In summary a lot of questions but not too many answers.  If golf can produce a superb role model like Rory McIlroy and he has a stellar year but still misses out on the top SPOTY award one has to assume something is wrong somewhere.  Here’s hoping McIlroy adds this minor setback – after all he is not short of awards this year – to his motivational armoury for the 2015 season and well and truly shows the wider British public just how good he is.

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.