63rd Open - Royal St George's 1928
Hagen's Royal St George's double
Walter Hagen won his third Open title in 1928 and joined Harry Vardon in winning a second Championship at Royal St George’s. Bobby Jones, winner of the previous two Opens, was not in the field but Gene Sarazen, already a winner of the US Open and two PGA Championships, was. In a showdown between the best two players, Hagen beat Sarazen by two strokes but may have derived even more pleasure from finishing three in front of Archie Compston.
After spending much of the early part of the year in Hollywood on a film project and then enjoying himself on the boat over, Hagen had been rusty when he first appeared in England. Nevertheless he took on Compston in a 72-hole match at Moor Park but lost by the humbling scoreline of 18 and 17. Hagen headed for the practice ground and completed his preparations for The Open in sober fashion, having locked away his “little black book”.
Form restored, he did not have a 6 on his card after an opening 75. A 73 in the second round left him three behind Argentina’s Jose Jurado after 36 holes but on the final day he produced two superb rounds of 72. Sarazen began the day level with Hagen but had two 73s. He was left ruing not only a 7 at the 14th in the second round but a 6 at the first in the final round. Compston also had two 73s and finished one behind Sarazen.
Hagen hit a delightful bunker shot to seven feet at the 15 and made the putt for a 4 to make sure he kept ahead. His total of 292 was eight strokes better than his score six years earlier. He was presented with the Claret Jug by the club captain, the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VIII, with whom he became great friends.
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