81st Open - Royal Lytham & St Annes 1952
Locke wins with only seconds to spare
Bobby Locke’s third Open title was almost thwarted by a locked garage on the morning of the last day of the 1952 Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Locke’s clubs were in his car boot and his car was in a private garage near his hotel in Blackpool. Up early for the final 36 holes, the South African found the garage locked but fortunately a passing milkman knew the owner and gave Locke a lift to get the key. Locke arrived at the course with just enough time to change his shoes and walk to the first tee.
After rounds of 69 and 71, he was four behind Fred Daly, the 1947 Champion who had started 67, 69 and would lead for each of the first three rounds. But after a 77 in the third round, Daly’s lead was only one from Locke, who had a 74, unflustered, it seemed, by nearly missing his tee time. Daly closed with a 76 while Locke had a 73 and the only other person who could beat him was a young Australian playing in his second Open.
Peter Thomson birdied the last for a 70 but fell one short of Locke’s 287 total. Not for another seven years did Thomson fare worse than second in The Open. Locke had won three Opens in four years, emulating the feats of Harry Vardon and James Braid. Since the Championship had been extended to 72 holes in 1892, no one managed to win three in a row until Thomson in 1954-56.
Daly finished two behind but Henry Cotton in fourth place was seven strokes adrift. Gene Sarazen, aged 50 and 20 years since he won at Prince’s finished tied for 17th alongside defending Champion Max Faulkner. This was only the second Open staged at Lytham, 26 years after its first in 1926.
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