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The legend's sole British Open victory

1946 British Open Championship Silver Claret Jug Won by Sam Snead.
As Snead's train car approached the final terminal in northern Scotland, he directed a finger at the vast expanse of unpopulated terrain out the window and asked a fellow traveler, "What's that abandoned golf course out there?"

Stunned at the American's outrageous inquiry, the Scotsman bristled, "That's St. Andrews!"

"That's where they're playing the British Open?" Snead replied incredulously.

The man grew even redder. "That's where they're playing the Championship!"

And such was the legendary Sam Snead's introduction to one of the few names in golf as illustrious as his own, that of the Old Course at St. Andrews, the ancestral home of the sport, already half a millennium old as Snead took his first steps upon its verdant grounds. This would prove to be the second of three occasions that Snead would throw his famous fedora into the ring in Great Britain's most illustrious tournament, and presented is the gleaming symbol of achievement that awaited him at the conclusion of the battle, one of the most significant Championship awards from any field of athletic endeavor ever to appear upon the hobby's auction block.

In fairness, Snead might well have claimed multiple Clarets had he returned to Britain's foggy landscape for subsequent tournaments, but his victor's check in 1946 had been only $600, not nearly enough to cover the $2,000 out-of-pocket expenses he'd incurred to make the journey across the Atlantic. He had been in the United Kingdom for the Ryder's Cup in 1937 for his first Open, but travel expenses would restrict Snead's reappearance on the Open roster until 1962, eight years past the occasion of his final Major victory.

But the iconic linksman was at his youthful prime as he entered the final Sunday round in 1946 tied at 215 with American Johnny Bulla and Brit Dai Rees, posting a solid seventy-five to claim the victory by four strokes. This first playing of the Open Championship after a seven-year delay due to World War II hostilities would prove to be the second of Snead's seven career Majors.

The Claret awarded to the victor is actually a replica of the permanent model first earned by Walter Hagen for winning the 1928 Open, presented to the Champion as he returns the lineal trophy before the next year's event. It serves as a living document of the tournament, with the name, course and final tally of each victor engraved upon its silver surface, beginning with Young Tom Morris in 1872 and concluding with Snead's own name. The trophy stands just over seventeen inches in height, elevated by the two circular bands upon the bakelite base necessitated by the ever-growing roster of Champions. Matching the elite status in the trophy case of professional sport is the masterful design of the sterling treasure, which is stamped for noted Scottish maker "Mackay Cunningham & Co" at the base. A small dent at the spout of the cup is the only condition distraction we can identify, and it's a minor one at that. Unquestionably one of the most significant offerings ever to tempt the advanced golf collector, this is a prize that, like Snead himself, is all but unequalled in its field.

The Claret is housed in a hinged and blue velvet-lined case bearing the golden embossed seal of St. Andrews on the interior doors. Letter of provenance from Jack Snead.


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Auction Dates
August, 2013
1st-2nd Thursday-Friday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 17
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