77th Open - Muirfield 1948
Cotton's third title
Henry Cotton’s third Open title in 1948 at Muirfield at the age of 41 established beyond doubt his position as the finest British golfer since the Great Triumvirate of Vardon, Taylor and Braid. He lost what would have been some of the best years of his career to the war and there were suggestions he was on the decline despite finishing fourth and sixth in the first two Opens after WWII. He practised hard prior to arriving at Muirfield and opened with a 71.
It was a 66 in the second round that put him in front for good. He had matching halves of 33 and though there were five other scores under 70 that day, none of them came from anyone ahead of him on the leaderboard. It was an exemplary performance to set before King George VI who watched all the way round. It was a record for Muirfield and the only score better in the history of The Open was Cotton’s own 65 at Sandwich in 1934.
Cotton led by four at the halfway stage but a 75 in poor weather on the final morning meant his advantage was cut in half. Alf Padgham, the 1936 Champion, was his nearest rival but 77 in the final round dropped him to joint seventh. Cotton returned a 72 for a total of 284. As he was home early in the afternoon, he had to wait to see if anyone could beat him but no one got closer than defending Champion Fred Daly, who finished five behind. Roberto de Vicenzo, on his debut, was among those tying for third.
It had taken 11 years for Cotton to regain the Claret Jug, a record for The Open although there were no Championships between 1940 and 1945. Ernie Els regained the title after ten years in 2012.
|3||Roberto DE VICENZO||ARG||70||73||72||75||290|
|3||Norman VON NIDA||AUS||71||72||76||71||290|
|7||Flory VAN DONCK||BEL||69||73||73||76||291|