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BACK NEXT Chapter 15 A Record Return to The Open Page 114

'Babe’ had first made the sporting headlines in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, when she won two gold medals and a silver, which should have been three golds. She was penalised for her revolutionary headfirst-over-the-bar technique (western roll) in the high jump and, although recording a new world-record height, she was awarded only second place. She won gold in the 80 metres hurdles with a world record time of 11.7 seconds and in the Javelin, in which event she had set a world record at sixteen years of age.

In the early fifties she was the star of the newly formed LPGA in America and she toured Britain in 1951 with a US women’s team. They played a match against a team of distinguished amateur gentlemen raised by General Critchley and won every game. Zaharias beat L.G.Crawley, who had won that year’s President’s Putter at Rye, after rejecting his suggestion that she should play off the ladies’ tees – she could hit the ball amazing distances. L. G.’ s mood cannot have been improved by her words when it was his honour: “Your beat, Len”. The ‘Babe’ was not in awe of anybody. (L. G. won the President’s Putter again the following year for the fourth time)

There was then a gap of four years before I played in the Open Championship again. During that period Henry Cotton won his third Open at Muirfield in 1948, with a course record 66 in the second round-watched by King George V1. A gallery of 10,000 lined the 18th hole to cheer him home, five shots ahead of the defending champion Fred Daly. In that championship Charlie Ward became the first man to have two holes-in-one in the Open when he aced the 13th in round-3 (since emulated by Ireland’s Paul McGinley). Charlie was a further shot behind Cotton, sharing third place with Norman von Nida, Jack Hargreaves and the brilliant Argentinean, Roberto de Vicenzo, making his first appearance in the championship. Roberto’s ball striking impressed Bernard Darwin, who wrote: “He gave more aesthetic pleasure than any other man in the field”. [Henry Cotton was later to describe him as the best ball striker in the world] de Vicenzo won the North British tournament that year, the first of many victories in Europe. (He won more than 230 world-wide) In that event Charlie Ward equalled the record of 29 for the outward nine in a British tournament. I had played in the inaugural North British in 1947; it was played annually at Harrogate, on the Starbeck, Pannal and Oakdale courses and I usually chose it as my ‘tour’ event as it was nearest to home [Bert also played in the Northern Professional, the Y. E. N. and News of the World Matchplay]. In the 1948 North British my scores for the first three rounds of 76, 76, 77, left me some way behind and, even with a better 71 to finish, I was a good twenty shots adrift.

Charlie won the North British in his finest year of 1949, when he retained the Vardon Trophy, also winning the Dunlop Masters at St Andrews, which he considered the best win of his career and sharing fourth place in the Open with Sam King. Bobby Locke had back-to-back Open wins - that year at Sandwich and at Troon in 1950, where he set a record aggregate of 279. His other victories included the Dunlop, Spalding and North British tournaments – the latter’s £500 cheque took his season’s total to £1900 and gained him the Vardon Trophy for the second time.

Max Faulkner triumphed at Portrush in 1951, fulfilling the potential he had shown with a sixth place in 1949 and a fifth in 1950. Max had played in the first post-war Ryder Cup in 1947, but nonetheless, when he arrived at Royal St. George’s to practise for the 1949 Open Championship, he was denied access to the clubhouse and told to change in the back of the pro shop. Even at his home club of Royal Mid Surrey he had been allowed to enter the clubhouse only once a week for a shower – at 8.15 on Monday mornings! When Henry Cotton’s two leading assistants dared to enter the clubhouse one day to use the Gents the Secretary immediately issued a memo. It read, “Under no circumstances shall Henry Cotton’s staff enter the clubhouse forthwith!” The British class system still prevailed and pros were kept in their place- Ryder Cup player or no. In some places it prevailed for the rest of the century and Colin Montgomerie revealed in his autobiography how he became aware of “the stigma attached to being a professional” when he turned pro. He had to resign his membership of Royal Troon, where his father had just been appointed secretary and he could no longer enter some clubhouses in the West of Scotland unless invited by a member.

Dick Burton continued to be a prominent player long after the war. In 1949 he won the Silver King at Moor Park and collected £350, £50 more than Bobby Locke received for winning the Open. He eclipsed Locke in the News Chronicle Tournament, played that year at Hollingbury Park, Brighton, breaking the then record aggregate for a major British 72-hole event on his way to a 12 shot victory. He scored 68,66,64,68 for a total of 266, bettering Ernest Whitcombe’s score set at East Brighton in 1937 by two shots. Jimmy Adams was second yet again, twelve shots behind on 278 and Locke finished down the field on 288. In that sort of form Dick was a certainty for the Ryder Cup, for which he was on the selection committee. It was played at Ganton that year, and he partnered Arthur Lees in a riveting match to beat the very strong US pairing of Sam Snead and Lloyd Mangrum. It was a sweet victory for Dick, who had lost his single 5 & 4 to Snead at Southport and Ainsdale in 1937, during which he had consistently been out-driven by the American. Snead was one of the very few players who could knock it past Dick in his