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The Chronicles of the Claret Jug and the Unsung Defending Champion

European Tour
Posted by Admin 15 Jul 2021

Written by: Manvi Singh



The Claret Jug officially known as the Golf Champion Trophy is the facilitation every golfer yearns for playing the prestigious major - The Open Championship and Shane Lowry just happened to be the last surprise onboard. 



The Claret Jug is also known as the Golf Champion Trophy. 



Being the oldest golf tournament in history, The British Open began its journey on the course in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, Scotland. Ever since the game has been played every year under the auspices of a select group of coastal links golf courses in the United Kingdom. 


As one of the four major golf tournaments for men after the Master's Tournament, the PGA Championship and the US Open; the Open Championship is a pioneer that establishes the wonder of golf and such is the feeling that holds the heart when a player gets to hold the Claret Jug.



The Claret Jug with the Challenge Belt. 



The Claret Jug is considered one of the highest honours in the golf world dating back to 1872. The jug has been set into tradition 12 years after the initiation of the Open, as it started with honouring the winner with the Challenge Belt


The Earl of Erlington suggested commissioning the belt for the event which was made up of Morroccon leather with a large silver buckle featuring silver panels of golfing scenes. This was usually clubbed with an additional medallion to the winner denoting the scores. 



The golfing scenes embellished on the Challenge Belt. 



The belt competed from 1860 to 1870 after Young Tom Morris acquired it as his personally possessed property after winning the Open Championship consecutively for three years which made 1871 be a year without a trophy due to which the Championship wasn’t held altogether.


In order to initiate the winning champion tradition once again, each club namely the Prestwick Golf Club, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers contributed £10 to the cost of the new trophy, which is inscribed 'The Golf Champion Trophy', and was made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh.



The engraved names of the winning champions in the past year on the Claret Jug.



Over the years, the winner’s name has been engraved on the jug with the first for Tom Morris as he won for the fourth time in 1872 while the trophy was not even ready. The winners are obliged to return the jug before the next tournament, which is then replaced by the replica to be kept permanently by the winner. 


As per engraver Alex Harvey, he never really begins engraving the name earlier than the winner is declared, "No, I didn't start engraving the Jug with his name. I've got to wait until the secretary hands me a slip of paper with the winner's name on it, and they always wait until the last putt is dropped."


The current champion is Shane Lowry, who won the 148th Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland with a score of 269. It was also held at Portrush in 1951, the first occasion that it had not been held in Scotland or England.



The defending champion, Shane Lowry with the Claret Jug. 



The surprise Open winner, Lowry had always dreamt of playing with Tiger Woods being from the same Irish grounds. The dream came true in Masters where he played along with Tiger for three days only to be titled the Open Champion in 2019. 


Now, being the defending champion for the 149th Open Championship at the Royal St. George’s, Shane is set to defend his title with all his heart even after handing over the jug back to the club. 


"Not that I am ready to give the Claret Jug back. I just handed it back so I am ready to, I’m happy it’s here and I’m happy I’m here defending, and I am looking forward to the week."


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