British Open trophy

In 1963 Bob Charles became the first – and to date only – New Zealander to lift The Golf Champion Trophy, better known as 'The Claret Jug', by winning the British Open golf championship. His was also the first major championship won by a left-hander, a feat that would not be repeated until 2003.

The Carterton-born golfer first came to prominence as an 18-year-old amateur when he beat a top international field to win the New Zealand Open at Heretaunga. He turned professional in 1960. After winning the New Zealand PGA Championship in 1961 he left for the European and North American circuits.

1963 was to be Charles' breakthrough year as a professional. He won his first PGA Tour event, the Houston Classic, before his monumental performance in the British Open championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. He was level with the American Phil Rodgers after four rounds, but Charles' putting in the 36-hole playoff was deadly and he won by an impressive eight shots.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Charles won about 80 tournaments around the world, including the Senior British Open in 1993. He remains, along with Michael Campbell, one of only two New Zealanders to win a major golfing championship. Proof of his longevity was never better illustrated than in the 2007 New Zealand Open when he shot 68 in the second round, beating his age by three strokes. He eventually finished in a tie for 23rd.


Image: Richard Carter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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'British Open trophy', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Jul-2013

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