75th Open - St Andrews 1946
Sam Snead takes first post-war title
Sam Snead did not endear himself to the people of St Andrews when word got round that on the train pulling into the town he had looked out of the window and said: “It looks like an old abandoned kinda place.” Of course, he was speaking about the Old Course, which fittingly was chosen to host the first Open after WWII, just has it had hosted the last one seven years earlier. Dick Burton had waited all that time to defend his title and promptly drove out of bounds on the first hole.
By the end of the week Snead had won over his detractors thanks to the quality of his golf, his powerful game – he regularly drove the green at the ninth, 10th and 12th holes – and wonderfully smooth swing. He won by four strokes from Bobby Locke, who would go on to become a four-time Champion, and fellow American Johnny Bulla, who was also a runner-up in the 1939 Open.
Locke led after an opening 69 and then Henry Cotton took over with two rounds of 70. Snead was one behind after scores of 71 and 70, while Dai Rees, the “Welsh Wizard”, produced a record score of 67 in the second round to trail by two. It was a windy final day and Snead had a 74 in the third round to share the lead with Rees and Bulla.
The scoring was even higher in the afternoon. Rees went into the Swilcan Burn at the first, as Cotton had done, and dropped to fourth place with an 80. Bulla had a 79, while Locke closed with a 76. Snead was almost out of bounds at the first after slicing his drive but remained unflustered throughout his winning 75. No Champion since has recorded a higher final round but it was plenty good enough for the American.
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