British Open: The Five Best Open Championships Ever

07/16/2012 08:41 am ET

LYTHAM, England — Picking the best five from the oldest championship in golf isn't easy, not with 150 years of history.

Willie Park Sr. won the first British Open at Prestwick in 1860 – a month before Abraham Lincoln was elected U.S. president. Against an eight-man field on a 12-hole course along the Ayrshire coast of Scotland, he defeated Old Tom Morris by two shots and won the championship belt, but not money. Darren Clarke won the most recent Open at Royal St. George's, capturing a silver claret jug and nearly $1.5 million, plus much more endorsement incentives.

Walter Hagen was the first American to win the British Open. Ben Hogan played only one time and won. Byron Nelson never came over to Britain enough, and it was the only major keeping him from the Grand Slam. The Open introduced the golfing world to the genius of Seve Ballesteros and the ruthlessness of Tiger Woods.

Here are five of the best British Opens:

(All captions via AP)

Five Best British Opens