Three-time Open Champion Henry Cotton served in the Royal Air Force during World War II

Unlike many professionals of his day who came from humble origins, three-time Open Champion Henry Cotton was born into an upper middle-class English family. He found his way to golf at the age of 13 after abandoning cricket.

At 17, Cotton turned professional. After tying for 7th at St Andrews in 1933 and several other Top 10 finishes, the stylish English golfer won his first Open Championship title in 1934 at Royal St George’s, setting a scoring record not broken until 1990 by Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. Cotton won the Open again at Carnoustie in 1937, defeating Reg Whitcombe by two strokes. Cotton’s third Open victory came in 1948 after he served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He trounced Fred Daly at Muirfield by five-strokes, posting a new course record of 66. Cotton played on three Ryder Cup teams and was a frequent winner on the European tour. He was also a successful author, golf course architect, and founder of a Golf Foundation for girls and boys getting started in the game. Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1980, Henry Cotton was posthumously knighted for his achievements eight years later.

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