A Look Back at The Open 1951 in Northern Ireland

By Evan Chronis October 12, 2018

For an event with a 150-year history, The Open Championship is but a baby in the eyes of a Northern Irish audience. 

A mainstay to those in England and Scotland, The Open Championship has only ventured to Northern Ireland once in its history — 1951.

That narrative will change next year, though, as The 148th Open will be held at the Royal Portrush once again. 

As The Open Experiences gears up to head to Northern Ireland next year, lets look back at the last time the Claret Jug was won at Royal Portrush. 

The Open Championship 2019

The Open Championship 1951

Golf's oldest championship turned 80 in 1951, and a change of scenery was in order. 

From July 4-6, The Open Championship was contested at Royal Portrush, a golf club that was founded in 1888 and multi-time host of the Irish Open. 

As was commonplace at the time, qualifying rounds took place during the two days before the championship started. 148 golfers entered the qualification rounds, which was the lowest total for The Open since 1904. But after two rounds of action, the field of 100 golfers was set. 

The story of The Open 1951 was one of reconquest for British golf. The Open was typically dominated by Scots and Englishmen throughout its history, with a few Americans interspersed, but the 1949 and 1950 editions of the tournament went to South African, Bobby Locke. So, while the location was off of British and Scottish turf, there was a pressure leading into the championship that someone from the UK had to claim the Claret Jug.

In stepped Max Faulkner. The Brit had never won a major championship going into Royal Portrush, but was well respected in the public eye for his service as a physical training instructor in the Royal Air Force during World War II, while also being a fairly successful golfer. 

Faulkner stayed with the pack through the first two days, shooting a 71 on Wednesday and 70 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead halfway through the championship. The Brit shot another 70 on Friday to give himself a six-stroke lead going into the final day. It looked like Faulkner was going to redeem his home nation in the biggest competition on European soil. 

But the final round wasn't without its own trials and tribulations. Faulkner shot his worst round of the championship, a 74, and opened himself up to a surge in the final holes. While he finished relatively early in the day, Antonio Cerda from Argentina was the only golfer still in contention with three holes left on his scorecard. 

However, the 16th hole is where his comeback efforts came to a halt, and Faulkner was declared the winner with an eventual two-stroke advantage over Cerda.

While Faulkner brought the Claret Jug back to England, he also began an 18-year drought — it wasn't until 1969 that another Englishmen won The Open Championship. 

Final Standings


Max Faulkner (ENG)

2 Antonio Cerna (ARG) -1
3 Charlie Ward (GBR) +2
T4 Fred Daly (NI) +4
T4 Jimmy Adams (GBR) +4
6 Bobby Locke (RSA) +5
6 Peter Thompson (AUS) +5
6 Bill Shankland (GBR) +5
6 Harry Weetman (GBR) +5


Join Us Back at Royal Portrush for The Open 2019

The Open Championship is returning to Royal Portrush next year! If you want the Claret Jug raised in Northern Ireland, considering attending with The Open Experiences. Join our wait list and we'll get you information about attending golf's only international major. 

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