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Fred Daly
© 2001, Douglas MacKenzie - All rights reserved
Fred Daly won the Open Championship in 1947 and, had it not been for the Second World War, would undoubtedly have won more honours. As it is he is the only Irishman, so far, to have won the Open.

He was brought up on links golf, born at Portrush in 1911 where his father, an artisan member, gave him a set of cut down clubs at the the age of three. His first professional post was assistant at Mahee Island in 1927. He became full professional here the following year and paid tribute to what he learned from the course. "Coming from links golf at Portrush, I needed parkland experience and it was at Mahee that I gained my confidence to vary my game to suit any terrain." It was here he perfected his lofted cut-up, "There came a stage when I could pop ball after ball into a hole halfway up one of the trees on the course".

It was while he was attached to the Balmoral club that his best championship performances came. In difficult conditions at Hoylake in 1947, Daly opened with rounds of 73 and 70 but then shot a 78 on the morning of the final day. His final round in the afternoon (none of this namby pamby one round a day stuff then) was a 72 and, with the weather deteriorating, he was back in with a shout. One by one the challengers fell away until Frank Stranahan needed to hole his second on the last to force a play-off. He very nearly did, his ball coming to rest a few inches from the hole but victory was Daly's. Those who muttered that he had been lucky might consider his record in the subsequent Open championships: 2nd in 1948, the year of Cotton's third triumph; third in 1950 and 1952; and 4th in 1951. He was also played in all four Ryder cups from 1947 until 1953. Between 1936 and 1958 he was Ulster Professional Champion 11 times and won the Irish Open in 1946. In 1947, 1958 and 1962 he was British PGA matchplay champion.

(Picture courtesy Mahee Island Golf Club)