Cotton’s third title
When he won his first Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 1934, Henry Cotton set a new record 65 in the second round which was to give its name to a famous Dunlop golf ball. It also helped him on his way to a five-shot victory. At Muirfield in 1948 his second round score of 66 lacked the resonance of his earlier record, but it propelled him towards another five-shot winning margin and his third Open title.
The first round lead was set by Charlie Ward, Sam King and Flory van Donck, of Belgium, on 69. Cotton opened with a 71, then spread the field with his 66. There were five other scores under 70 that day, but none by those who had set the pace in the first round. The Open champion of 1938, Reg Whitcombe, was next best with a 67, but his first round had been 10 shots higher.
The tough weather conditions for the two final rounds on the third day made scoring difficult and there were no returns below 70. Despite rounds of 75-72 Cotton was in an unassailable position. The modern system of the leading players going out at the end of the field had not yet been introduced and Cotton set an early target of 284 that no-one came close to catching on an anti-climatic afternoon.
Fred Daly, a model of consistency throughout, with rounds of 72-71-73-73 was his nearest rival on 289.