This club is famous for... Bradshaw hitting the bottle

A cruel twist of fate hindered Harry Bradshaw when The Open headed to Royal St. George's in 1949...

It would take a book – and probably a couple of volumes – to get through all the things that make Royal St. George’s famous.

Such is the heritage and allure of the Open Championship venue.

There’s one moment, though, that stands out from the others at the Sandwich course. It takes us all the way back to 1949.

It’s the second round of the world’s oldest major, and the Irishman Harry Bradshaw has hit his tee shot from the par-4 5th.

His name might not trip off the tongue to modern audiences, but the County Wicklow player was quite a golfsmith in his day.

The winner of 10 Irish PGA Championships and two Irish Opens, Bradshaw played in three Ryder Cups – including the famous win at Lindrick in 1957 – and was twice Dunlop Masters champion.

Bradshaw had led the qualifiers – in those days everyone played two rounds of qualifying to get into the Championship proper – with 139 and had begun strongly with a 68 in the first round.

Royal St George's

But when he came to his ball on the 5th he was stunned to find it had rolled right into the remains of a bottle that was littering the course.

Royal St George's

Today, there would be no issue. He’d take relief and carry on. The Irishman wasn’t sure of the rules, it appears, and elected to play it as it lies.

It’s the sort of effort you’d expect to see in a trick shot routine. Bradshaw, though, had to play it for real and on the biggest stage.

He took a lofted club, crashed into the glass as hard as he could and hoped he didn’t take his eye out with a splinter.

Amazingly, the ball went forward – about 30 yards – but he was unable to save par. Clearly unsettled afterwards, he went round in 77.

“If the ball had been in a Guinness bottle, I couldn’t have brought myself to hit it,” he is purported to have said when asked about the incident.

It was a shot that would prove crucial. Bradshaw would follow up with rounds of 68 and 70 and would end up in a tie with Bobby Locke. He would be beaten by 12 shots the next day in a 36-hole playoff.

It was Bradshaw’s moment in the sun. Denied by that cruel twist of fate, he’d never get as close in a major championship again.

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