James Braid successfully defends his Open title
When James Braid arrived at Muirfield for the 1906 championship he was defending the title he had won by five shots at St Andrews the year before, but his task was made no easier by being drawn to play in late afternoon on the two opening days. For the first time the Open was played over three days in an effort to accommodate a record entry of 183.
Many of these players were completely out of their class, castigated by one commentator for ‘the vaingloriousness of second-rate professionals and amateurs who annually comber the field’.
On the first day Braid arrived too early and felt that the long wait affected his score. The next day he took part in a friendly foursome on a nearby course before completing a second round which left him trailing J.H. Taylor by four shots and Harry Vardon by three. Taylor’s play in the second round was highlighted by an inward nine of 31.
All those more than 15 shots behind the leader were eliminated from the two final rounds on the third day, reducing the field to 72 players.
Two shots behind with 18 holes to play, Braid completed the course in 73, while Taylor slipped further and further behind through wayward driving and erratic putting. Vardon four-putted the first green and took six at the second to leave the way open for his great Scottish rival.
Braid had successfully retained the championship trophy and captured his third Open title.