72nd Open - Carnoustie 1937
Cotton wins for the second time
Henry Cotton won The Open for a second time at Carnoustie in 1937 with the most impressive performance of his career. Cotton won by two strokes from Reg Whitcombe, the youngest of the three brothers, and headed a field that included the entire American Ryder Cup team who had beat the hosts at Southport just before The Open. The visitors included Masters Champion Byron Nelson, who finished fifth, US Open Champion Ralph Guldahl, who was 11th, alongside Sam Snead, and US PGA Champion, and former Open Champion, Denny Shute, who was 14th.
“I feel my victory was well-earned, especially with the formidable Americans over here this year.”
Carnoustie, at over 7,000 yards, was tough enough without the incessant cold rain that plagued the final day, almost flooding the course. Play was able to continue but Whitcombe, the leader after the second and third rounds, topped his drive at the seventh in the final round when his grip slipped and he took a 6. Cotton had scored rounds of 74, 72 and 73 to be three off the lead and now produced a 71 for a total of 290.
Though he had record rounds of 65 at Sandwich in 1934 and 66 at Muirfield in 1948, this was considered one of his finest efforts, in fact one of the best rounds to win a Major Championship given the conditions. He chipped and putted his way around the links expertly, needing only 26 putts for the final round. Whitcomb closed with a 76 to take second place, a year before his victory at Sandwich, and his brother Charles was fourth, one behind Charles Lacey.
“I feel my victory was well-earned,” said Cotton, who also won the Claret Jug three years earlier, “especially with the formidable Americans over here this year.” Alas, Nelson only returned once after his retirement from regular tournament play and Snead returned just once more while still in his prime, winning in 1946.