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Tommy's Honour by Kevin Cook

Release date: 06th April, 2009
Publisher: Harper Sport

List Price: £9.99
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Tommy's Honour
The extraordinary story of golf's founding father and son
By Kevin Cook

4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £6.99, saving 22% on rrp

Between September 1861 and September 1872 at Ayrshire's Prestwick golf club, Tom Morris senior and his son, Tom Morris junior, won golf's Open championship an astonishing four times each; in return, the younger man collected a total of £26 in prize money, while his father won just £10. The financial rewards enjoyed by the game's greatest-ever dynasty was, even by late nineteenth century standards, modest.

This is hardly a surprise for while some sporting historians have suggested that golf enjoyed a surge in popularity following the Open's introduction in 1860, such a conclusion is slightly wide of the mark. In 1867, for example, the prize pool had fallen to the equivalent of £5.50, (from £20 two years earlier) illustrating just how tough economic conditions were and how far away the game was from enjoying widespread popularity. Nonetheless, this should not detract from the records of Morris senior and junior who dominated the tournament's first decade.

Both men were supremely talented golfers and what a wonderfully compelling story Kevin Cook tells of their on-course competition and their loving, off-course father and son relationship. What a sight it must have been in 1869 as Morris junior beat the old man into second spot by recording the Open's first sub-50 round.

Two years earlier, aged 46 years and 99 days, Morris senior had become the oldest-ever winner of the Open (and of any Major until Julius Boros' US PGA title in 1968). This record was matched the following year by Tom junior who, at 17 years, five months and 8 days became the youngest winner of the championship and of any of the Majors.

Here was a golfing phenomenon, a young man surely destined to dominate professional golf for at least a decade as his 12-shot victory in 1870 seemed to confirm. This was Tom junior's third consecutive success, for which he was awarded a belt of Moroccan leather (then the winner's prize - the Claret Jug wasn't awarded until 1872) for posterity by the organising committee. He won the title again the next year, although tragically, it was to be his last.

Like many Scots of his age, Tom Morris junior was a hardened whisky drinker, the effects of which began to have a debilitating effect upon his health. Although he was to achieve a third- and second-pace finish at the Open, his winning streak ended abruptly while his heart was broken when his wife died in childbirth. He hit the bottle with even greater force afterwards and was found dead by his father aged just 24 on Christmas morning 1874.

In completing his comprehensive research, Cook has left no stone unturned. It shows in this outstanding book which is not only a book about sport but of a father imbuing his son with both innate skill and a competitive spirit. Following his untimely death, Tom senior lived for another twenty years in remorse

You do not need to be a golf fan to appreciate this story because should a Hollywood director happen to read it, you could expect to see it translated to the silver screen before long. Absolutely outstanding.


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