74th Open - St Andrews 1939
Dick Burton secures last pre-war title for Britain
Dick Burton held the Claret Jug for seven years. The 1939 Open at St Andrews was the last before WWII and within weeks Burton was called up into the RAF. He was the sixth British winner in a row since Denny Shute had won the last Open at St Andrews in 1933.
Burton was a big-hitting Lancastrian who shared the lead after an opening 70. A young Bobby Locke was another on 70 despite an 8 at the newly lengthened 14th hole where he first had trouble with the Beardies and then went into Hell Bunker. Burton took sole possession of the lead with a second-round 72 but in the third round fell back with a 77. Scotland’s John Fallon went in front with a 71 but with the wind increasing his slight frame was no match for the conditions. He finished with a 79 to share third place with Sam King, 1935 Champion Alf Perry, Bill Shankland and defending Champion Reg Whitcombe.
Johnny Bulla, from Chicago, had rounds of 77, 71, 71 and 73 for a total of 292 set early on the final day. Burton knew he needed a 72 to win and was out in 35. He came to the last needing a 4 to win and hit a huge drive, then pitched to 15 feet. His putt looked like it might race past the hole but as Burton walked after it, it dropped in the hole for a closing birdie. A 71 left him on 290, two ahead of Bulla, who was also a runner-up at St Andrews in 1946.
Martin Pose, of Argentina, finished five strokes behind after an 8 at the Road Hole after he went over the green. Not realising that the grass in front of the wall was technically in a hazard, he grounded his club and was penalised two strokes.