The 1921 Open Championship was the 56th Open Championship, held 23–25 June at the Old Course at St Andrews in St Andrews, Scotland. Former local Jock Hutchison won his only Open Championship, in a 36-hole playoff over amateur Roger Wethered. It was Hutchison's second and final major title.
Qualifying took place on 20–21 June. Entries played 18 holes on the Eden Course and 18 holes on the Old Course. The top 80 and ties qualified. The qualifying score was 161 and 85 players qualified. Jock Hutchison led the qualifiers on 146.
The entries included an unusually large number of American-based player following a funding-raising campaign by an American golf magazine. On September 27, 1920 Golf Illustrated wrote a letter to the Professional Golfers' Association of America with a suggestion that a team of 12 to 20 American professionals be chosen to play in the British Open, to be financed by popular subscription. At that time no American golfer had won the British Open. The idea was that of James D. Harnett, who worked for the magazine. The PGA of America made a positive reply and the idea was announced in the November 1920 issue. The fund was called the British Open Championship Fund. By the next spring the idea had been firmed-up. A team of 12 would be chosen, who would sail in time to play a warm-up tournament at Gleneagles (the Glasgow Herald 1000 Guinea Tournament) prior to the British Open at St Andrews, two weeks later. The team of 12 was chosen by PGA president George Sargent and PGA secretary Alec Pirie, with the assistance of USGA vice-president Robert Gardner. A team of 11 sailed from New York on the RMS Aquitania on May 24, 1921 together with James Harnett, Harry Hampton deciding at the last minute that he could not travel. The American team was: Jim Barnes, Emmet French, Clarence Hackney, Walter Hagen, Charles Hoffner, Jock Hutchison, Tom Kerrigan, George McLean, Fred McLeod, Bill Melhorn and Wilfrid Reid.
The day before the Glasgow Herald Tournament, a match was played between the Americans and a team of British professionals, the first match between American and British professionals and a fore-funner of the Ryder Cup matches. After the Glasgow Herald Tournament most of the American team travelled to St Andrews to practice, However, Walter Hagen and Jock Hutchison played in a tournament at Kinghorn on June 14 and 15. Hagen had a poor first round and didn't turn up for the second day. Hutchison scored 74 and 64 and took the £50 first prize. The American-based entry was augmented by two other professionals, Jack Burgess and James Douglas Edgar, and some amateurs, including Bobby Jones. All the American-based professionals qualified with the exception of Wilfrid Reid, who scored 163. Two of the amateurs qualified, Bobby Jones and Paul Hunter.
During the first round, Hutchison made a hole-in-one at the 8th and then drove the green at the par-4 9th, his ball settling inches from the hole. He finished with a round of 72 and a two-shot lead. By the end of the third round, however, he trailed Jim Barnes by four shots. Wethered, a student at Oxford, carded a 71 in the final round to finish at 296, while Hutchison shot 70 to tie and force a Saturday playoff.
Wethered almost did not make it to the playoff, as he was scheduled to play for his cricket team that day and had to be persuaded to stay and play golf. In the playoff, the first two holes were halved before Hutchison gained two shots at the 3rd. However he played a poor 4th hole and took six to make the match all square again. Hutchison took a grip on the match by scoring four threes from the 7th to the 10th while Wethered took four fours. At lunch, Hutchison held a three shot lead.
In the afternoon, Hutchison struggled at the first three holes but managed to halve the holes with Wethered. The match then turned decisively with Wethered taking six at the 4th and Hutchison taking threes at the 5th and 6th. Wethered dropped another shot at the 7th and now Hutchison was nine strokes ahead. Hutchison was in trouble at the 11th and took five but Wethered three-putted and only gained one stroke. Thereafter, Hutchison's lead increased to twelve before his cautious play at the final holes reduced the lead to nine.
Although a native of St Andrews, Hutchison had become a United States citizen and was credited as being the Open's first American champion. The Times reported under the headline "Cup Goes to U.S.A." that "our Open Championship goes for the first time in its history to America." The following year, Walter Hagen became the first U.S.-born winner. Bobby Jones, 19, played at St Andrews and the Open for the first time, and was the low amateur after 36 holes. He withdrew in the third round after taking four shots to get out of a bunker at the 11th.
Thursday, 23 June 1921
Friday, 24 June 1921
(a) denotes amateur
Saturday, 25 June 1921