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17 October 2014

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Golf

Tommy Armour

Tommy Armour

© SCRAN

The 1931 Open Championship was the first to be held at Carnoustie, just north of Dundee on Scotland's east coast. The assembled field was one of the strongest in the tournament's history with names that were to become part of golf's folklore; Henry Cotton, MacDonald Smith, Gene Sarazen and the eventual winner, exiled Scot, Tommy Armour.

Born in Edinburgh in 1895, Armour emigrated to the USA in 1925 to enhance his golf career. The move was successful and before Armour arrived at Carnoustie, he had already won the 1927 US Open in a play-off with Harry Cooper, and the 1930 US PGA title.

When the tournament got under way Armour made a reasonable start, opening with a 73, which left him one shot behind the joint first-day leaders, Johnny Farrell, Henry Cotton and William Twine.

Cotton was still in front after the second day, a 75 giving him a total of 147. He was joined at the top of the leader-board by Argentinian Jose Jurado. Tommy Armour was third on 148, after equalling Cotton's score of 75.

When Armour shot a disappointing 77 in the third round, his best chance looked to have gone. True, Henry Cotton had fared worse, returning a 79 which put him right out of contention, but Jurado had seized the initiative with a 73, to give him a total of 220 and a three-stroke advantage over the field. MacDonald Smith and Arthur Havers were his nearest rivals; Reg Whitcombe and Johnny Farrell were a shot further back.

Tommy Armour

© SCRAN

Alongside Armour on 225 were Percy Alliss and Gene Sarazen, both of whom were capable of making a move in the final round and for a long time Alliss threatened to do just that, until a poor finish saw him take 11 shots over the closing two holes for a score of 73 and a total of 298.

Armour also found himself in a good position as he entered the latter stages of his round, but unlike Alliss, he kept his game together and was able to equal the course record with a 71. His four-round total of 296 was the new target.

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