68th Open - St Andrews 1933
Golf's worst missed putt
Denny Shute became the tenth American winner of The Open in a row at St Andrews in 1933 and remains unique among all Major Champions in recording four identical scores of 73, equivalent to par on the Old Course at the time. Though a 68 was posted in each of the first three rounds, in the final round 72 was the best score returned. He tied with fellow American Craig Wood and won a 36-hole play-off the next day. His sequence was halted by scores of 75 and 74 but with a total of 149 he won by five strokes compared to Wood’s 78-76.
The play-off was not nearly as exciting as the final round which saw Shute rally from three behind a quintet of leaders. One of them was Leo Diegel, a two-time PGA Champion who had finished second and third in his two previous visits to The Open. He had an idiosyncratic putting style, crouching low over the ball with his elbows out wide, forearms parallel to the ground. He came to the last needing a 4 to tie and rolled a long approach putt stone dead. Always a nervous finisher, he then suffered one of the worst aberrations seen at the denouement of a Major Championship. He had a complete air shot. He missed the play-off by one, tying for third place with defending Champion Gene Sarazen, who had a 6 at the short 11th, and Syd Easterbrook, the only non-American in the top-six. Henry Cotton tied for seventh a year before claiming the title.
Shute followed his debut Open victory with two wins in the PGA Championship. Wood lost play-offs for all four Majors, something only matched by Greg Norman, but finally won the Masters and US Open in 1941.