Ted Ray’s power wins four-shot victory
Ted Ray’s only Open success came at Muirfield in 1912 where his mighty hitting gained a distinct advantage over a course which had been extensively lengthened since the victory of James Braid six years earlier. Ray was heavily built and played all his golf in tight fitting jacket, collar and tie, with a trilby hat crammed on his head and a large pipe permanently clamped in his teeth throughout the round. His demeanour was as uncompromising as his attack on the golf ball. When asked by a fellow golfer how to achieve greater distance, he replied simply: ‘Hit it a bloody sight harder.’
Muirfield had been stretched to a massive 6,425 yards for the 1912 championship, but Ray was still able to drive both the 13th and 15th holes which measured more than 300 yards. The combined challenge of the Great Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, James Braid and J.H. Taylor, who had won the previous four Opens between them, could not stop Ray in his prime. Vardon made up four shots on the champion with a final round of 71, but was still a distant second, four shots behind. Braid finished eight shots adrift.
With his main rivals still on the course in hopeless pursuit, Ray completed his last round with two perfectly played pars. A contemporary report summed up the scene. ‘The moment the ball disappeared into the hole, making him 37 for the incoming half, 75 for the round and 295 for his grand aggregate, his friends made a wild rush at him, hoisted him in spite of his weight and obvious reluctance, and bore him off in triumph.’