Sam Snead takes first post-war title
Sam Snead did not immediately endear himself to the people of St Andrews when the championship resumed in 1946. Emerging from seven years of war, with severe food rationing still being enforced, Snead’s first comments on the Old Course — “it looks like an old abandoned kinda place” — were guaranteed to ensure a cool reception.
At the week’s end the presentation of the trophy had to be delayed while Snead was tracked down to his hotel, but there was no denying the quality of the powerful golf that gave him victory by four shots over the soon-to-be-dominant Bobby Locke of South Africa and his equally powerful American compatriot Johnny Bulla, who had also finished in second place when the Open was last played in 1939.
Locke led the first round with a 69 and diminutive Welshman Dai Rees added a record-equalling 67 in the second, but at half-way Henry Cotton was at the head of the field after a pair of 70s, just one shot ahead of Snead. On the final afternoon Snead, Bulla and Rees were tied for the lead with Cotton just one behind.
But on a day of strong and blustery wind even Snead dropped four shots in the outward nine holes while around him all the other contenders slipped quickly out of the picture. Snead’s powerful long game allowed him to drive three par-four holes during the week — the ninth, 10th and 12th — and as he turned for home in the last round he used his length and accuracy to come back in 35 for a total of 75 and a four-round aggregate of 290. Locke climbed into a share of second place with a 76. Bulla finished with a 79. So did Cotton, and Rees was one shot worse.