On this day in 1992, 16 year old Tiger Woods became the youngest PGA golfer in 35 years, going on to become the first $100 million man on the PGA Tour.
He certainly wasn’t the youngest. Andy Zhang made the US Open in 2012, at the ripe old age of fourteen years, six months, but even he wasn’t the youngest.
The youngest golfer ever to play in one of the majors (the Masters, US & British Opens and the PGA Championship), was the appropriately named “Young” Tom Morris Jr., a Scot who played in the 1865 British Open at 14 years and four months.
Morris withdrew from that year’s tournament, at about the time General Robert E. Lee was meeting General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Young Tom went on to win the British Open three years later, winning the equivalent of $12 for the feat. Ironically, the victory came at the expense of his father “Old” Tom Morris, Greenkeeper and club pro at the famous ‘Old Course’ at St. Andrews.
Young Tom followed that first Open Championship in 1868 with three more, in 1869, 1870 and 1872. His record stands to this day, the only player ever to win four consecutive Open Golf Championships. (There was no championship in 1871).
Young Tom would win three more Opens before dying on Christmas day, at the age of 24. The first of only two teenagers in history to win any of the majors.
In April 1864, Young Tom attended a tournament with his father, at the King James VI Golf Club. With days to go before his 13th birthday, he was too young to compete in either the professional or amateur sections. Local organizers organized a two-man tournament between himself and a local youth champion. A large gallery followed the two young golf stars throughout their match. Those who did so were rewarded by seeing young Tom win the match, by a score sufficient to have won the professional tournament.
In 2016, the historical drama “Tommy’s Honour” opened the 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival, on June 15, based on one of Sports Illustrated 2007 “Books of the Year”, “Tommy’s Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf’s Founding Father and Son”, by Kevin Cook. The film will be broadcast on the Golf Channel, in spring 2017.