The US Open came back to Canterbury in 1946 after being there only 6 years earlier. But since the tournament was not held from the years 1942-1945 due to World War II, there was only one US Open contested between the times that Canterbury had played host. Only the 1941 US Open at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth Texas prevented Canterbury from hosting two consecutive US Open Championships.
Lloyd Mangram emerged victorious after a 3-way 36-hole playoff with Bryon Nelson and Victor Ghezzi. The first US Open held at Canterbury featured unusual rules situation and a playoff to determine its champion. The second time around would provide a very fitting encore.
Sam Snead and Toney Penna shared the first round lead with each player firing 3-under-par 69s. But after two rounds it was Ben Hogan and Victor Ghezzi tied atop the leaderboard at 4-under-par 140. Hogan had played a marvelous 2nd round which featured 6 birdies while shooting a 4-under-par 68. Golf legend Byron Nelson, who had said that the 1946 US Open would be his last, was sitting just two strokes behind the leaders. Lawson Little, who won the 1940 US Open at Canterbury, was just one shot back at the mid way point. Also of note, Canterbury Golf Professional Henry Picard was in contention after 36 holes sitting at even par, as well as Lloyd Mangrum.
The third round was a round that Byron Nelson will remember for a long time. Nelson shot a 3 under par 69 which vaulted him to sole possession of the lead with only 18 holes to play. But, an unfortunate rules situation prevented the lead from being any larger. Nelson had to fight through a large gallery of spectators and marshals ropes with his caddie to reach his ball on the 13th hole. The ropes were quite close to where his ball was laying and when Nelson’s caddie stepped through the ropes, he also stepped on Nelson’s ball. This resulted in a one stroke penalty for Byron, which would prove to be very costly.
Lloyd Mangrum shot a third round 68 which put him only one shot behind Nelson entering the final round. Ghezzi shot an even par 72 to stay just a shot back and Hogan fired a 73, leaving him 2 behind Nelson after 54 holes.
The final round saw many ups and downs, but none more dramatic than those that occurred over Canterbury’s famed last 3 holes. Ben Hogan made pars at 16 & 17 but a three putt bogey at the 18th hole ultimately cost him a spot in the playoff. Ghezzi and Mangrum had both made it to the clubhouse with rounds of even par 72 and posted a 4 under par total for the tournament. Byron Nelson was two shots clear of that total with just two to play. However, he made bogies at both 17 & 18 setting the stage for a playoff the next day.
The 3-way playoff between Mangrum, Ghezzi and Nelson would need more than the customary 18 holes to decide the champion after each player shot even par 72 in the morning. Then in the afternoon, the go for broke Mangrum trailed by 3 shots with only six holes to play. He reeled off birdies on 13, 15 and 16 to seize control of the playoff. Despite finishing with bogies on 17 and 18, Lloyd Mangrum was the US Open champion. He finished with an even par 72, one stroke better than both Nelson and Ghezzi. This would be Mangrum’s only major championship victory among his 36 career PGA Tour victories.