66th Open - Carnoustie (1931)
Armour pierces the field at Carnoustie
Like Jim Barnes six years earlier, Tommy Armour came back from five strokes behind to win the first Open staged at Carnoustie in 1931. But whereas Barnes was in second place behind Macdonald Smith in 1925, Armour was tied for sixth after 54 holes. Argentina’s Jose Jurado led by three from Smith, the Carnoustie-born American, and Arthur Havers, the 1923 Champion, by four from Johnny Farrell and Reg Whitcombe and by five from a group that included Armour, Gene Sarazen and Percy Alliss.
On the monster 6,900-yard course, Whitcombe closed with an 80 and Havers a 79. Smith, as at Prestwick, collapsed with a 76 to be with fifth with Farrell, who had a 75. Sarazen and Alliss had 73s and ended up third, the Englishman playing the last two holes in 11 strokes.
By contrast Armour, the 1927 US Open winner and the reigning PGA Champion, produced something special with a course record-equalling 71. He finished with a 3 at the 16th, a 4 at 17 after missing a short putt, and a 5 at the last after holing a good putt to post a total of 296. Jurado was the only player who could beat him and went out in 36 but dropped shots coming home. He found the Barry Burn on the 17th and took a 6. At the last he drove well but decided to lay up short of the burn. He pitched to nine feet but missed the putt, only then to find out that a 5 and a closing 77 was one stroke too many.
Armour, the “Silver Scot”, had been born in Edinburgh, lost the sight of one eye due to mustard gas in WWI and later moved to America. He was the last Scottish-born player to win The Open until Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie in 1999.
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