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Why do Americans say British Open and the rest of the world says Open Championship?

Referring to The Open Championship as “British Open’' has spread over the years in and out of the U.S., but just what is the official name of the tournament?

Referring to The Open Championship as “British Open’' has spread over the years in and out of the U.S., but just what is the official name of the tournament?
Warren LittleGetty

The Open Championship, also known as the British Open, is the oldest and most prestigious golf tournament in the world. Originally held annually at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland, the tournament is now played in Great Britain every year (and a few times in Northern Ireland). While the official name of the tournament is, and always has been, “The Open Championship,” one may wonder why some people, specifically Americans, refer to it as the British Open. Let’s take a dip into history.

Follow the final day of the 150th Open Championship live from St Andrews

The British Open or the Open Championship?

The tournament, which is run today by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews- one of the two governing bodies (along with the USGA) of golf- dates back to 1860. During that time, professional golf tournaments didn’t exist anywhere outside of Scotland, and there was no need for differentiating the tournament’s title geographically.

Related: British Open history: winners, courses, records and statistics

In 1895 however, the USGA launched its own tournament, calling it the “United States Open Championship,” aka the famous “U.S. Open.” Suddenly, “The Open Championship” in Britain was no longer the only major open in the professional golf world. And to Americans, it only made sense calling the open tournaments by their geographical location, hence the Open in the United States was the “U.S. Open” and the Open Championship in Britain became the “British Open.”

How the ‘British Open’ became prominent

Sometime around 2005, the R&A asked its American broadcast partners, ESPN and NBC, to refer to the tournament as “The Open Championship,” rather then the “British Open”, or to stick with the iteration of the event, like “The 150th Open Championship” or “The 145th Open Championship.” Calling the tournament “The Open” was also okay for the R&A, and eventually in 2017, that’s what they called the tournament the most.

But because Americans have a powerful presence worldwide, especially with some of the world’s most famous golfers being Americans, “British Open” spread in use over the years in and out of America, and continues to be used until this day.

When is the 2022 Open Championship?

The 150th Open Championship will take place on the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland, marking its 30th Open there. The tournament, which takes place July 14-17, was last played in St Andrews in 2015, and previously 2010 and 2005.


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