Alf Perry spoils Cotton’s title defence
With an opening round of 68 Henry Cotton looked in ominous form in 1935 in defence of the title he had won for the first time a year earlier at Royal St George’s. One shot behind was Alf Perry, the man he had beaten three years before in the final of the PGA Match-Play Championship. Perry was a powerful hitter, with a strong right hand grip and a wide, flat swing, but after two rounds both he and Cotton had been overtaken by some sparkling golf from Charles Whitcombe.
He had moved three shots clear of Cotton and five ahead of Perry with a 68 for a total of 139. Then it was Perry who turned on the firework display with a third round 67 that moved him ahead of the field as Cotton slipped to a 76 and Whitcombe to a 73. Perry’s golf was confident and almost casual and he played a succession of fine fairway woods into Muirfield’s longer holes.
A final round of 72 was good enough to hold off all challengers and Perry finished with a four stroke advantage over the steadiest golfer in the field, Alfred Padgham, who completed rounds of 70-72-74-71. Whitcombe finished third and Cotton trailed in with a share of seventh place after a final 75. Lawson Little, the American who won that year’s Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, finished joint fourth.
Perry’s winning score of 283 equalled the lowest total in any Open and was not beaten at Muirfield until Jack Nicklaus claimed the title in 1966.