Hagen leads the American invasion
The course at Royal St George’s had been considerably revamped in the 11-year gap between the Opens of 1911 and 1922. Freddie Tait, who won the Amateur Championship over the Kent course in 1896, summed up the major criticism when he described St George’s as ‘a one-shot course — a paradise for the big-hitter’.
Changes had been made, some blind shots and long carries removed and the bunkering brought up-to-date. And it suited flamboyant American Walter Hagen to perfection. He had already won the US Open and USPGA titles and was to become the first native-born American to win the Open in Britain.
But he had a tough fight on his hands. With one round to play he was tied with fellow US Open champion Jim Barnes two shots behind Scots-born American Jock Hutchison, the defending champion who had won the title the summer before in St Andrews. Hutchison fell away with a 76 to finish in third place. Barnes matched Hagen almost blow-for-blow, but his final 73 was one shot too many as Hagen finished with a 72, his lowest round of the championship.
What none of the leading contenders had reckoned with was the sparkling form of George Duncan. After a third round of 81 he had slipped out of the picture. But a final round of 69 brought him into a share of second place with Barnes.