British PGA Matchplay Championship

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British PGA Matchplay Championship
Tournament information
Location Great Britain
Established 1903
Tour(s) European Tour
Format Match play
Final year 1979
Final champion
Republic of Ireland Des Smyth

The British PGA Matchplay Championship was a match play golf tournament that began in 1903 and ran until 1979. Between 1903 and 1969, the event was sponsored by the now defunct British newspaper the News of the World, and was commonly known by the paper's name. Initially organised as the championship of British professionals, the event came to include invited players from other countries - in particular from around the Commonwealth (it was won on four occasions by Australia's Peter Thomson, a record number of victories shared with Dai Rees and James Braid). On occasion, American professionals also took part, notably in 1949 when the eight members of the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup side accepted invites to the event, Lloyd Mangrum reaching the semi-finals.

For many years, the event boasted the richest prize fund in British golf, and certainly in the pre-First World War era, can be considered to have been a "major" championship of its day, as at the time, the British professionals were considered the best players in the world – in 1907 the four semi-finalists were The Great Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, J.H. Taylor and James Braid, along with Ted Ray, who would go on to win both the British and U.S. Opens.

After World War II, the event provided several notable British and Irish players, like Christy O'Connor Snr, Eric Brown and Dave Thomas, with their greatest triumphs, and also became a showcase for the matchplay strength of Neil Coles, who was at least a semi-finalist eleven times in eighteen years, a remarkable achievement considering the field normally comprised 64 and on occasion 128 players.

The tournament was also often notable for remarkable runs to the later stages by veteran players - Max Faulkner was a semi-finalist in 1967 aged 51 and reached the quarter-finals three years later, and in 1969 Dai Rees reached the final aged 56. However, following the establishment of the British PGA Championship (at stroke play) in 1955, the matchplay version lost some of its importance, and the matchplay format fell out of favour with sponsors, who could not guarantee that the final day would feature any "big-name" players to attract a television audience, nor either that the matches would finish at times to coincide with limited scheduled slots for live transmission. The tournament remained an official money event on the European Tour from its first season in 1972, but after 1979 it was discontinued. The last champion was Irishman Des Smyth, who beat a youthful Nick Price in the final.



The tournament was announced in August. £200 had been given by the News of the World to the PGA for the competition. The final stage would be at Sunningdale Golf Club from 13 to 15 October and would be a knock-out match-play contest by 32 professionals. Qualification was by a series of 36-hole stroke-play competitions; one for each of the five PGA sections. The number of qualifiers from each section was based on the membership of that section. The Southern section had 16 qualifiers, the Midland and Northern sections had 5 each, the Scottish section 4 and the Irish section 2. The matches in the final stage were over 18 holes except for the final which was over 36 holes. Extra holes were played in the event of a tied match. The winner received £100, the runner-up £30, losing semi-finalists £15 and losing quarter-finalists £10.[1] The semi-finalists also received medals: the winner gold, the runner-up silver and the losing semi-finalists bronze.

The Northern section held their qualification at Huddersfield on 22 September with Ted Ray winning with a score of 148.[2] The Scottish section qualification was the following day at Earlsferry with Robert Thomson winning with a score of 153. Arnaud Massy failed to qualify,[3] The Irish section played on 24 September at Lahinch with George Coburn winning with a score of 157.[4] The Southern section played on 29 September at Acton with J.H. Taylor winning with a score of 140. There was a tie for the final two places and there was a 36-hole play-off the following day.[5] The Midland section played on 7 October at Hollinwell with Tom Williamson winning with a score of 151.[6] Harry Vardon was ill and didn't enter.

In the first round Jack White, third in the 1903 Open Championship lost to Tom Williamson. Later in the day Tom Vardon who had been second in the Open lost to Ted Ray.[7] In the quarter-finals James Braid beat Alfred Toogood at the 19th hole. In the semi-finals Braid won the first two holes against J.H. Taylor and won 4&2. Ray beat George Coburn 4&3 in the other match. They had been level after 7 holes but Ray won the next 4 to take a convincing lead.[8] In the final Braid led by 1 hole after the first round. In the afternoon Braid won 3 of the first 5 holes to go 4 up and, although Ray won the next two, Braid eventually won 4&3.[9]


Year Champion Runner-up Semi-finalists Venue
Sun Alliance European Match Play Championship
1979 Des Smyth Nick Price Antonio Garrido, Carl Mason Fulford Golf Club
Sun Alliance Match Play Championship
1978 Mark James Neil Coles Sam Torrance, Manuel Piñero Dalmahoy Country Club
1977 Hugh Baiocchi Brian Huggett Neil Coles, Christy O'Connor Jnr Stoke Poges Golf Club
1976 Brian Barnes Craig Defoy John O'Leary, Simon Hobday Kings Norton Golf Club
1975 Eddie Polland Peter Butler Dale Hayes, Ronnie Shade Lindrick Golf Club
Benson & Hedges Match Play Championship
1974 Jack Newton Cesar Sanudo Neil Coles, David Jagger Downfield Golf Club
1973 Neil Coles Doug McClelland Peter Wilcock, Hedley Muscroft Hillside Golf Club
1972 John Garner Neil Coles Ronnie Shade, Dave Stockton Moor Park Golf Club
1971 No tournament
Long John Scotch Whisky Match Play Championship
1970 Tommy Horton Ronnie Shade Bobby Walker, Roberto Bernardini Moor Park Golf Club
News of the World Match Play
1969 Maurice Bembridge Dai Rees Brian Huggett, David Talbot Walton Heath Golf Club
1968 Brian Huggett John Panton Neil Coles, James Martin Walton Heath Golf Club
1967 Peter Thomson Dai Rees Max Faulkner, Neil Coles Walton Heath Golf Club
1966 Peter Thomson Neil Coles Alex King, Peter Alliss Walton Heath Golf Club
1965 Neil Coles Lionel Platts Christy Greene, Tony Jacklin Walton Heath Golf Club
1964 Neil Coles Peter Butler Max Faulkner, Hedley Muscroft Walton Heath Golf Club
1963 Dave Thomas John Macdonald George Will, I Wright Turnberry
1962 Eric Brown E Whitehead Dave Thomas, Tony Fisher Walton Heath Golf Club
1961 Peter Thomson Ralph Moffitt Neil Coles, Bernard Hunt Walton Heath Golf Club
1960 Eric Brown Harry Weetman Tom Haliburton, Dave Thomas Turnberry
1959 David Snell Harry Weetman Norman Sutton, Dave Thomas Royal Birkdale Golf Club
1958 Harry Weetman Bernard Hunt Christy O'Connor Snr, Alex Fox Walton Heath Golf Club
1957 Christy O'Connor Snr Tom Haliburton Harry Bradshaw, Eric Brown Turnberry
1956 John Panton Harry Weetman Ken Bousfield, Peter Mills Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake
1955 Ken Bousfield Eric Brown Arthur Lees, Frank Jowle Walton Heath Golf Club
1954 Peter Thomson John Fallon Frank Jowle, Norman Sutton St Andrews Links
1953 Max Faulkner Dai Rees John Jacobs, Fred Daly Ganton Golf Club
1952 Fred Daly Flory Van Donck John Panton, George Johnson Walton Heath Golf Club
1951 Harry Weetman Jimmy Adams Alan Waters, Sam King Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake
1950 Dai Rees Frank Jowle Ken Bousfield, Henry Cotton Carnoustie Golf Links
1949 Dai Rees Henry Cotton Sam King, Lloyd Mangrum Walton Heath Golf Club
1948 Fred Daly Laurie Ayton, Jnr Sam King, Charlie Ward Royal Birkdale Golf Club
1947 Fred Daly Flory Van Donck Charlie Ward, Henry Cotton Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club
1946 Henry Cotton Jimmy Adams Bobby Locke, Dick Burton Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake
1945 Reg Horne Percy Alliss Reg Knight, Tom Odams Walton Heath Golf Club
1941-44 No tournament due to World War II
1940 Henry Cotton Alf Padgham RG French, Arthur Lacey Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1939 No tournament
1938 Dai Rees Eddie Whitcombe Arthur Havers, Laurie Ayton, Jnr Walton Heath Golf Club
1937 Percy Alliss Jimmy Adams Don Curtis, Charles Whitcombe Stoke Poges Golf Club
1936 Dai Rees Ernest Whitcombe Percy Alliss, Jack Taylor Oxhey Golf Club
1935 Alf Padgham Percy Alliss Dick Burton, Reg Whitcombe Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1934 Jack Busson Charles Whitcombe Albert Chevalier, Reg Whitcombe Walton Heath Golf Club
1933 Percy Alliss Mark Seymour Ernest Whitcombe, Archie Compston Purley Downs Golf Club
1932 Henry Cotton Alf Perry Arthur Lacey, Jack Jolly Moor Park Golf Club
1931 Alf Padgham Mark Seymour Charlie Ward, CW Thomson Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1930 Charles Whitcombe Henry Cotton Abe Mitchell, Syd Easterbrook Oxhey Golf Club
1929 Abe Mitchell Philip Rodgers Archie Compston, Alfred Beck Wentworth Club
1928 Charles Whitcombe Henry Cotton Jack Taylor, Herbert Jolly Stoke Poges Golf Club
1927 Archie Compston James Braid Tom Williamson, Ernest Whitcombe Walton Heath Golf Club
1926 Sandy Herd Jack Bloxham Reg Wilson, WH Ball Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1925 Archie Compston George Gadd George Duncan, Len Holland Moor Park Golf Club
1924 Ernest Whitcombe George Gadd Sandy Herd, Tom Barber Royal St George's Golf Club
1923 Reg Wilson Thomas Renouf Abe Mitchell, Tom Williamson Walton Heath Golf Club
1922 George Gadd Fred Leach Ernest Whitcombe, Charles Johns Sunningdale Golf Club
1921 Bert Seymour Jack Gaudin Ted Ray, Syd Wingate Oxhey Golf Club
1920 Abe Mitchell Josh Taylor Bert Seymour, Len Holland Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1919 Abe Mitchell George Duncan Peter Rainford, Fred Robson Walton Heath Golf Club
1914-18 No tournament due to World War I
1913 George Duncan James Braid Reg Wilson, Willie Watt Walton Heath Golf Club
1912 Harry Vardon Ted Ray Reg Wilson, Harry Cawsey Sunningdale Golf Club
1911 James Braid Ted Ray Tom Williamson, Harry Vardon Walton Heath Golf Club
1910 James Sherlock George Duncan Eric Bannister, Cyril Hughes Sunningdale Golf Club
1909 Tom Ball Sandy Herd Harry Vardon, James Hepburn Walton Heath Golf Club
1908 J.H. Taylor Fred Robson Charles Mayo, James Sherlock Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1907 James Braid J.H. Taylor Ted Ray, Harry Vardon Sunningdale Golf Club[10]
1906 Sandy Herd Charles Mayo George Duncan, Rowland Jones Notts Golf Club (Hollinwell)
1905 James Braid Tom Vardon Rowland Jones, Arthur Mitchell Walton Heath Golf Club
1904 J.H. Taylor Alfred Toogood James Hepburn, Sandy Herd Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club
1903 James Braid Ted Ray J.H. Taylor, George Coburn Sunningdale Golf Club

See also

  • HSBC World Match Play Championship - another matchplay championship played in the United Kingdom, which has been an official money event on the European Tour since 2004.


  1. "Golf – Professional Golfers' Association". The Times. 3 August 1903. p. 10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Golf – Professional Golfers' Association". The Times. 23 September 1903. p. 5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Golf – Professional Golfers' Association". The Times. 24 September 1903. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Golf – Professional Golfers' Association". The Times. 25 September 1903. p. 10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Golf – Professional Golfers' Association". The Times. 30 September 1903. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Golf – Professional Golfers' Association". The Times. 8 October 1903. p. 5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Golf – The professional tournament – Defeat of Jack White and Tom Vardon". The Glasgow Herald. 14 October 1903. p. 12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Golf – The great professional tournament – Braid and Ray the finalists". The Glasgow Herald. 15 October 1903. p. 11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Golf – The great professional tournament – Success of James Braid". The Glasgow Herald. 16 October 1903. p. 15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Golf Jottings". The Illustrated and Dramatic Sporting News. September 21, 1907. Retrieved 7 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links