A Dramatic Finish at Hoylake
The 1947 Open Championship was played at Hoylake. Henry Cotton and Laurie Ayton were the joint first round leaders with a score of 69. Cotton followed this with a round of 78 to fall back to second place, four shots behind Fred Daly.
Daly had a poor third round, ending with a score of 78, which allowed the rest of the field to catch up. He was the joint leader, along with Arthur Lees, Norman Von Nida and Henry Cotton on 221. The American amateur, Frank Stranahan, was a single shot behind, whilst Reg Horne, Reg Whitcombe, Ayton and Alf Perry were two shots back and another four players were three strokes off the pace.
On an afternoon of increasing wind, Reg Horne made the first move. Starting from one stroke behind the leaders, he was out in 35 but ran into trouble at the 16th and 17th holes, taking a five at each. At the 18th, his putt for a birdie three rimmed the hole and came out again. He finished on 294 and that ever so close birdie attempt was to prove crucial.
Daly had a difficult start to his final round and was out in 38, but it was a different story on the inward nine. At the 18th, his birdie putt crept into the hole for a score of 72 and a clubhouse leading total of 293.
Cotton was playing 50 minutes behind Daly and reached the turn in 36. He needed to play the last nine in 35 to beat Daly, but in the increasing wind this proved to be asking too much. Cotton took 40 strokes and finished on a disappointing 297.
Only one player was left on the course who could challenge Daly’s score, Frank Stranahan. Despite the weather conditions, he reached the 17th tee needing to play the last two holes in seven strokes to tie for the lead. He was on the green in two but missed his putt and the return putt. This left him needing an improbable two on the last hole. He hit a magnificent tee shot down the right side of the fairway. Using a medium iron, he let fly and the ball finished less than a foot from the hole. It was a dramatic finish which saw Fred Daly emerge as The Open Champion.