Ian Baker-Finch hands back Open Gold Medal for $50,000 charity donations

Ian Baker-Finch returns the Gold Medal from his victory in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 1991 to Clive Brown, chairman of the professional events committee at The R&A. Picture: The R&A/Getty Images
Ian Baker-Finch returns the Gold Medal from his victory in the Open at Royal Birkdale in 1991 to Clive Brown, chairman of the professional events committee at The R&A. Picture: The R&A/Getty Images
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Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, has effectively handed his Gold Medal for winning golf’s oldest major back to the R&A in return for charity donations worth $50,000 (£40,000).

The Australian’s Champion Golfer’s medal will go on display in the clubhouse at Royal Birkdale, where he recorded his only major triumph. In return for the gesture, the 58-year-old has split the $50,000 between two charities in Australia – Challenge and Redkite – as well as the Golf Foundation in the UK.

Jarrod Lyle, an Australian professional who passed away earlier this year after cancer-related illness, was an ambassador for Melbourne-based Challenge and supported its work for many years.

“Many of my charitable activities have focused upon improving the lives of young people and particularly those who are undergoing care and treatment for cancer-related illnesses in Australia,” said Baker-Finch. “These charities
are very close to my heart and I know these funds will make a real difference to the lives of young people and their families. I would like to thank the R&A for its generosity in 
helping to support these initiatives.”

Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, added: “One of Ian’s most enduring qualities is his unstinting acts of kindness and we were delighted to support these charitable activities which clearly mean a lot to him.”

The Golf Foundation will use the funds donated by Baker-Finch to support its Girls Golf Rocks participation programme, which includes taster sessions and weekly coaching. “This is a very generous gesture by Ian and the R&A,” said chief executive Brendon Pyle.

Meanwhile, Longniddry’s Cameron Gallagher is the leading Scot heading into the final round of the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final at Al Ain in the UAE. He sits seven shots off the lead after a second-round 72 for a two-over total, one less than Hamish Gorn (Aberdour) and two better than Cameron Adam (Royal Burgess).