Hagen emphasises American domination
Colourful American Walter Hagen had already won the Open three times, at Royal St George’s in 1922 and again in 1928, and at Hoylake in 1924, and was the defending champion when a large international field gathered at Muirfield in 1929. In the 17 years since the last Open at Muirfield, huge changes had taken place. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers had acquired an additional 50 acres and Harry Colt had extended and revamped the course to form the layout which, with minor alterations, survives today.
Although Percy Alliss, Peter’s father, led after a first round 69, Leo Diegel of the USA matched that score in the second round. Added to his opening 71 it gave him a half-way total of 140, but Hagen had returned a 67, a record low round for the Open, to be placed ominously just two shots behind. Alliss slipped to a 76, but Abe Mitchell kept home hopes alive with a pair of 72s to stay close to the American pair.
From that point the scoring rocketed. Diegel had a disastrous 82 in the third round, Alliss and Mitchell 76 and 78. Hagen, renowned for his cavalier attitude to golf and to life, finished the championship with two rounds of 75 and a total of 292 but still had a clear six-shot victory over Johnny Farrell, another American, with Diegel limping home another shot behind. Mitchell and Allis shared fourth place on 300.
They were the only home players in the top 10, every other place being filled by Americans Bobby Cruikshank, Jim Barnes, Al Watrous, Gene Sarazen and Tommy Armour. Scots supporters took some comfort from the fact that Armour had been born just a few miles down the road in Edinburgh — but by 1929 he had taken American citizenship.