The 1940 Open was anything but dull. Of course there was fine shot making but also a controversial disqualification. Lawson Little, Gene Sarazen, and Porky Oliver tied after 72 holes at one under par 287. However, Oliver was then disqualified for beginning his final round ahead of his posted starting time. Porky indicated there was a storm coming and since the starter had given them their cards they thought they could start early and beat the storm. Five other players started early and were disqualified but the impact was huge for Oliver.
Little was called “Tarzan of the Tees” for his prodigious length. He was a crafty shot maker though and approached the playoff with Sarazen from a match play standpoint. In 1934 and 1935, as an Amateur, Little won 31 times at match play. It served him well and he captured the prize of $1000 for first place. Little gave his eighteen year old caddie $200 to help pay for his college tuition to Fenn College.
Canterbury was considered a power hitters course. The big guns, Sam Snead and Jimmy “Titanic” Thompson finished back in the pack. Although, Snead opened with 67, his final round 81 destroyed any chance of winning. Of course Little was long too so ultimately the reputation of the course held. Little could have been a dominant player in championship golf if World War II had not intervened. After the war, Lloyd Mangrum picked up the winner’s check for the 1946 Open also held at Canterbury, $50,000. Oh what a difference a few years made!