69th Open - Royal St George's 1934
Cotton's 65 ends American domination
Henry Cotton ended a decade of American domination of The Open with his victory at Royal St George’s in 1934. In doing so he became the fourth player to win while leading after every round since The Championship was extended to 72 holes. A 66 in qualifying, in which he holed not a single long putt, suggested he was in fine form. It showed in The Championship proper as Cotton opened with a 67 to lead by three from Fred Taggart.
In the second round Cotton set a new record score for The Open of 65. He was out in 33 and home in 32, birdieing three of the last five holes. As in the first round, he recorded only one bogey. His 36-hole total of 132 was a new record and he was nine ahead of Alf Padgham. Dunlop celebrated Cotton’s achievement by naming their best-selling ball the “65”.
The final day’s play was rainy and windy but while Cotton scored a 72 in the third round he now led by ten from Joe Kirkwood. His leading margins for 36 and 54 holes remain records for The Championship. The trouble set in after lunch when he suffered from stomach cramps. He was out in 40 and had 5s at the next three holes. He got up and down in with a fine chip and putt at the 13th to settle his nerves and he staggered to the finish. A closing 79 left him on a total of 283 and a winner by five strokes from South African Sid Brews, with Padgham finishing two shots further adrift.
That night he visited Harry Vardon at his hotel in Sandwich. The six-time Champion had not been well enough to watch the golf on the final day but Cotton placed the Claret Jug in his hands and both men shed a tear.