57th Open - Royal St George's 1922
Hagen leads the American invasion
Walter Hagen claimed the first of his four Open titles at Royal St George’s in 1922, although George Duncan, the Champion two years earlier at neighbouring Deal, almost caught him with a late charge. It was the second time in a row the Claret Jug had been won by an American but the first time by a US-born player. St Andrews-born Jock Hutchison won at the Old Course in 1921 and defending his title was leading after 54 holes.
Hagen had held the halfway lead after rounds of 76 and 73 but had a 79 in the third round, when the scoring was mostly very high except for a brilliant 72 by Charles Whitcombe. Hagen closed with a 72 to post a total of 300, which was thought unbeatable. Telegrams were sent to newspaper offices along those lines. Luckily for the press men, nobody did beat him but two came close. Cornish-born American Jim Barnes had a 5 at the last to finish on 301 after a 73, while Duncan, who was thought out of if after an 81 in the third round, made a brilliant late surge. A 2 at the 16th and a 4 at the 17th left the Scot needing a 4 at the last to tie. But his approach rolled down into the dip to the left of the green and he chipped weakly and took a 5. He had closed with a 69 but one short of Hagen. Duncan’s Hollow is now the name of the area where his approach ended up.
Hutchison finished in fourth place and Whitcombe, one of three golfing brothers, was fifth and a 53-year-old JH Taylor sixth. It was a fourth Major title for the flamboyant Hagen, after two US Open wins and victory in the 1920 PGA Championship.