Who Holds The Scoring Record At The Open?

Two players hold the record score to par - but only one can boast the lowest winning total

Henrik Stenson Troon 2016
Henrik Stenson lifts the Claret Jug at Royal Troon in 2016
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was a record that many thought would never be beaten – at least not for a very long time. When Tiger Woods completed the career grand slam at St Andrews in 2000, he did so with rounds of 67, 66, 67 and 69 for a winning score of 269 (19-under-par).

That record was eventually trumped, however, when Henrik Stenson dismantled Royal Troon in 2016 to post a winning score of 264 (20-under-par) with rounds of 68, 65, 68 and 63.

Phil Mickelson will have counted himself very unlucky to have left Ayrshire without the Claret Jug, having knocked it round the links in 267 blows.

Then, just last year, at St Andrews, along came Cameron Smith to tie the Swede’s record of 20-under-par with rounds of 67, 64, 73 and 64 for a winning score of 268.

Stenson, though, with that incredible display in 2016, boasts the lowest total, taking just 264 blows to get his hands on the most famous piece of silverware in the game.

A number of other players have come pretty close to the 20-under mark, with Sir Nick Faldo’s 18-under (270) at St Andrews in 1990 also worth a mention.

Woods’ four knocks around Royal Liverpool in 2006 were pretty special, too, the great man making it Open title number three just two months on from the death of his father.

Tiger Woods Hoylake 2006

An emotional Tiger Woods went low at Hoylake in 2006

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This was the year that Woods put on a tactical clinic at Hoylake, famously using the driver just once in an long iron play exhibition that saw him card rounds of 67, 65, 71 and 67 (270).

It was a score Rory McIlroy almost matched at the same venue in 2014, but he fell one shot short of that number when winning The Open for the first time.

The 151st Open returns to Hoylake this year, of course, and it’s looking like the recent hot weather in the north west will make for a fast and firm links.

Whether that will mean someone will be able to go really low around the famous venue remains to be seen, although it seems unlikely that Stenson's record low Open score of 264 will be challenged. 


  • Henrik Stenson, 2016, Royal Troon, 264 (lowest total score, four rounds)
  • Henrik Stenson, 2016, Royal Troon & Cameron Smith, 2022, St Andrews, -20 (lowest score to par)
Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.