Braid escapes the railway to capture second Open
Entries for the Open exceeded 150 players for the first time when the championship returned to St Andrews in 1905, making it necessary to run the event over three days, a format which had first been tried at Royal St George’s in the previous year. All entrants played 18 holes a day on June 6 and 7, and those within 15 shots of the leader completed a further 36 holes on the final day.
Conditions were tough for the opening round with a strong north-easterly wind bringing a rash of new pot bunkers very much into play. The greens had a hard, glassy texture which made approach play and putting extremely difficult and only four players in a high-class field managed the leading score of 80. Although conditions for the second round were easier the scoring was still high, but the leading dozen players included James Braid, Arnaud Massy, Sandy Herd, Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor and a fine climax was in prospect as the 45 qualifiers set out for the two final rounds.
Vardon, who had hit his second shot to the 18th in round two so high and so wide that it finished on the roof of a four-story building, suffered badly on the greens and quickly faded out of the picture. Herd went the same way with rounds of 83 and 87. Braid established a clear-cut lead with a fine score of 78, using his aluminium putter from long range and his putting cleek for the short ones, to start the final round six shots ahead of Taylor and Massy With an outward 38 the tall Scot seemed to have an invincible lead, but he twice fell foul of the railway in the closing holes. In those days the main line into St Andrews was not out-of-bounds.
Braid’s second shot to the 15th finished beside the track and his recovery hit a spectator, costing him an eventual six. At the very next hole his long tee shot caught a small fairway bunker. Tempted by the good lie in the sand he attempted to reach the green, but the ball skittered away through the fence on to the railway. This time he was not so lucky and the ball nestled against a metal support between the lines. His attempted recovery moved only a few feet and his next flew over the green.
Faced with a fiercely difficult pitch and run across the sharply sloping green, he carefully picked his spot and left the ball only inches from the hole for another six. His challenge was still intact and with two comfortable fives he finished the round in 81, five strokes clear of the second-place tie between J.H. Taylor and Rowland Jones from Wimbledon.