The 1959 Open Championship was the 88th Open Championship, held from 1–3 July at Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland. Gary Player, age 23, shot a final round of 68 to win the first of his nine major titles, two strokes ahead of runners-up Fred Bullock and Flory Van Donck. It was the first of Player's three Claret Jugs; he won again in 1968 and 1974.
Muirfield was originally scheduled to host in 1957, but it was transferred to St. Andrews because of petrol rationing following the "Suez Crisis" in late 1956. Muirfield was subsequently allocated the 1959 Championship.
Qualifying took place on 29–30 June, with 18 holes at Muirfield and 18 holes at the number 1 course Gullane. There were no exemptions and the number of qualifiers was limited to a maximum of 100, and ties did not qualify. The qualifying score was 147 and 90 players advanced to the first round the next day; defending champion Peter Thomson led with 137 and won the £50 qualifying prize. The maximum number of players making the cut after 36 holes was again set at 50, and ties did not make the cut.
The purse was increased to £5,000, up 150 from 4,850 in 1958; the winner's share remained unchanged at £1,000, but the prizes for second to fifth places were increased. Second place received £700, with £525 for third, £400 for fourth, and £325 for fifth.
Bullock and Arnold Stickley led after the first round on Wednesday with scores of 68. A number of amateurs made good starts, Michael Bonallack being the leading amateur with a 70. Bullock retained the lead after a second round 70 and Bonallack was one of four amateurs to make the cut. The three 'giants' Bobby Locke, Henry Cotton, and Thomson all made the cut, but all were eight or more strokes behind Bullock.
On Friday, Player teed off at 9:04 am and 1:34 pm, two hours before the leaders, who started at 11:04 am and 3:34 pm. Player was out in 37 in his morning round but came home in 33 and was only four strokes behind the leaders after 54 holes. The Scottish amateur Reid Jack had a third round 68 to be only two shots behind. In the afternoon's final round, Player reached the last needing 4 for a round of 66. However he drove into a bunker at the 18th and three-putted for a 6, a round of 68 and a total of 284. In the last group Bullock and Flory Van Donck both finished two shots behind Player. Jack won the silver medal for leading amateur by finishing tied for fifth place, two ahead of Bonallack.
Only three Americans were in the field of 90 and none made the cut.
Wednesday, 1 July 1959
Thursday, 2 July 1959
Amateurs: Bonallack (−2), Carr (+1), Jack (+2), Wolstenholme (+4),
Sweeny Jr (+7), Smith (+8), Garrett (+12), Dalziel (+13), Ferguson (+13), Stuart (+13).
Friday, 3 July 1959 - (morning)
Friday, 3 July 1959 - (afternoon)
Amateurs: Jack (E), Bonallack (+2), Wolstenholme (+3), Carr (+10).