73rd Open - Royal St George's 1938
Whitcombe weathers the storm
Calm, sunny weather over the first two days gave way to one of the worst storms ever to hit The Open for the final day at Royal St George’s in 1938. Surviving from the wreckage was Reg Whitcombe, who won by two strokes from Jimmy Adams and by three from defending Champion Henry Cotton.
So strong was the wind that the huge Exhibition Tent, the largest ever seen at The Open, was ripped apart and the debris was scattered all over the course, and as far as the clubhouse at Prince’s a mile away. With the wind at his back Alf Padgham drove the green at the 384-yard 11th and sank the putt for a 2. Coming in the other direction, Cyril Tolley saw his second shot at the 14th clear the water hazard known as the Suez Canal, only to be blown back into the water. There were only nine scores under 80 in the third round and only seven in the final round. Only the top-three finishers had two apiece and they were the only ones to finish with a total under 300.
Whitcombe was the youngest of three brothers in a distinguished golfing family from the West Country. Charles finished 10th and Ernest 19th but it was Reg who won nothing but praise from his fellow professionals for the way he handled the worst of the storm. Nevertheless he had two four-putts, at the ninth in the third round and at the first in the final round.
He was one behind after two rounds of 71 and when the weather turned added scores of 75 and 78 for a total of 295. His tally of 153 for the last day was bettered only by Cotton’s 151. A 74 in the final round was an outstanding effort by Cotton but he had started too far back. Adams had two 78s.
|4||John J. BUSSON||GBR||71||69||83||80||303|