Bobby Jones and Liverpool


It is interesting that even casual golf fans know Bobby Jones won his eras Grand Slam and most assume, in error, that he won The Open Championship at St. Andrews that year. In reality, Jones won the British Amateur at St. Andrews and secured The Open at Royal Liverpool, thanks to some good old fashion twists of fate.
The 1930 Open Championship was scheduled two weeks following the Amateur at St. Andrews. As great courses tend to produce great champions, Jones march to victory in the match-play event was not without its trials. It can be argued that Jones won the British Amateur as much with his intellect as with his immense golfing talent. This point was particularly illustrated in his fourth-round match against defending champion Cyril Tolley, who was Jones opposite in almost every manner. The massive Tolley was capable of overpowering a golf course and intimidating his opponents. Jones craftily used a psychological strategy that turned Tolleys strengths into weakness by selectively out driving him, forcing Tolley to take massive slashes at the ball in an effort to protect his self image. None-the-less, Jones victory was hard fought and was decided on the 18th green with a stymie. While Jones left St. Andrews with the coveted victory, he also left with the knowledge that he had not played to his fullest potential. If he was to continue his march to the second stage of the Grand Slam, he would need to be ready for The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
The pressure that was starting to mount on Jones at this point was formidable. Perhaps in an effort to help clear his head, after the British Amateur victory, Jones took a holiday in Paris with his wife Mary for a few days of relaxation. When he arrived at Hoylake for The Open, his game did not immediately follow. Jones held it together well enough, however, to qualify adequately and hoped that he would find his touch in the championship.
Jones bogeyed two of his first three holes to start The Open. As with Tiger Woods at major championships, some of Jones troubles can be accounted to the fact that a photographer insisted on taking his picture while he was in his setup or backswing. Eventually, Jones steadied himself and posted a 2-under-par 70, sharing the lead with Mac Smith and Henry Cotton. Jones would post a 72 in the second round and lead the tournament by one over Fred Robson.
At this time, the final two rounds of The Open were contested as 36 holes on the last day. Jones third round would begin as his first round did, with two bogeys over the first three holes. Compston, a 6-foot-5 Welshmen, was playing a few holes behind Jones, and he was tearing it up. Compston would post bookend scores of 34 going out and coming in, and would end the round with the course record and a one-shot lead on Jones as they prepared for the final 18 holes.
It was during this final round that Jones seemed to have come back into the good graces of Lady Fortune (Jones description of good luck). Jones tee shot on the second hole was badly sliced, and the ball sailed directly for the out of bounds. But before it met its certain doom, the ball connected soundly with the head of a marshal and rebounded wildly into a bunker on the adjacent fourteenth hole. Jones knew that fate had granted him a mulligan, and he capitalized on the opportunity by making birdie.
Jones would par the third hole to stand at even par for the round and the tournament as his closest pursuer, Compston, who had teed off almost an hour behind Jones, was sizing up a tap-in putt on the first hole for par. Compston was brimming with confidence, still riding the hot streak from his morning round. The less-than-two-foot putt that awaited Compston was nothing more than routine, and the large man carelessly stabbed at the putt to clean up his par. To his horror, his unconcerned effort left the ball perched on the edge of the cup, and he was forced to settle for bogey. The incident seemed to unnerve Compston, and his game quickly fell apart, eventually posting a score of 82.
The implosion of Compston did not translate into an automatic victory for Jones, for the great man did little to help his cause. On the short par-5 eighth hole, which Jones had birdied in each previous round, he not only failed to get up and down for birdie from just off the green, but he chunked two chip shots, missed a par-saving putt, and then missed the bogey putt to post a 7, the highest score he ever shot in an Open Championship.
Jones troubles were not over yet, as he posted bogey on the 11th, 13th, and 15th holes. But on the par-5 16th hole, Jones seemed to call upon the magic that defined his career. Jones hit his second shot into a bunker at the left front of the green, and his ball settled into a difficult position on a downhill lie. Jones was forced into an awkward stance with one leg in the bunker and one out. But he executed a perfect shot, exploding the ball softly up over the bunker face and rolling it directly toward the hole for a two-inch tap-in birdie.
Jones final round 75 and total of 3 over par was good enough to win The Open Championship with a two-shot victory over Leo Diegel and Mac Smith -- a victory that would not have happened without some good old-fashioned luck and Jones superior ability to sense an opportunity and to take advantage of it when it arrives.
Copyright 2006 Matthew E. Adams Fairways of Life
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Editor's Note: Matt Adams is a reporter for The Golf Channel, equipment expert, twenty-year veteran of the golf industry and speaker. In addition, he is a New York Times and USAToday bestselling coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of Fairways of Life, Wisdom and Inspiration from the Greatest Game. Fairways of Life uses golf as a metaphor for life and features a Foreword by Arnold Palmer. To sign up for Adams Golf Wisdom email quotes or for more information, go to