Hometown hero wins… for America
Jock Hutchison was born and brought up in St Andrews, but by the time he won the Open over his home links in 1921 he had become an American citizen and thus became the first non-British champion.
He had won the USPGA Championship the year before and was firm favourite to capture the first Open title to be contested at St Andrews for 11 years — a gap caused by the first world war. Even on the bone hard greens of that summer Hutchison was able to generate such pronounced backspin that the ball would pitch past the hole and screw back. This short game mastery was achieved with a club which had a heavily ribbed face. J.H. Taylor dismissed it as “buying the shot out of the shop.” In fact the Rules of Golf Committee had met at Hoylake in May that year and decided that such clubs should be banned from July 1. Hutchison won his title on June 25.
Yet two holes in the first round proved that Hutchison was an outstanding player even without the benefit of his controversial club. At the first short hole, the eighth, he holed in one and then drove the par-four ninth, his ball hitting the edge of the hole and stopping three inches away. He was playing with young American prodigy Bobby Jones who estimated the shot at 303 yards. Although he established a two shot lead with his opening round of 72, Hutchison trailed another naturalised American, Jim Barnes from Cornwall, by four shots after the third round.
He was also one shot behind talented amateur Roger Wethered, an R&A member and Oxford undergraduate. And it was the young student who set the pace in the final round with an amateur record of 71, forcing a 70 from Hutchison to tie the scores on 296. Wethered was due to play for his local cricket team the following day and it took a great deal of persuasion to make him stay on for the 36-hole play-off. In an anti-climactic finale to a dramatic championship he was beaten by nine shots by the seasoned professional.