Young Tom Morris (1851 - 1875)
Born St Andrews, Scotland, Morris is remembered as a golf's first great champion.
Morris, son of the legendary Old Tom Morris, grew up with golf all around him. It is certainly known that he competed as a professional from the age of 13. Amateurs were held in higher esteem than professionals at the time. The latter made their by through betting, tuition, caddying and often ball and club-making. The Morris family had their own workshop and their wares were exported all over the world.
In 1868, Morris won the first of 4 consecutive opens. Aged just 17, he is the youngest winner in the history of the event. After winning his third Open 1870 and therefore winning the championship belt outright, the authorities suspended the event. The Open was not played in 1871 while the authorities figured out a way of over-coming such unexpected domination of the event. They decided to rotate the event between three courses and to award the famous Claret Jug on a yearly basis as prize. Imagine their surprise when Morris won the event yet again in 1872.
However the story of Young Tom Morris is ultimately a tragic one. His wife of one year was taken ill during childbirth and a telegram was dispatched to call Morris to her bedside. It was given to him as he came off the course at North Berwick. While in transit home, another telegram arrived with the grim news that she died. Morris never recovered from the shock. He died a few months later on Christmas Day 1875.
A memorial was erected at his grave on which was inscribed "Deeply regretted by numerous friends and all golfers, he thrice in succession won the Championship Belt and held it without envy, his many amiable qualities being no less acknowledged than his golfing achievements ". Never has so much been achieved so young - an outstanding golfer.