Herman Densmore Shute, from Cleveland, Ohio, was always known as Denny and had contrasting fortunes in Britain in 1933.
In the decisive singles of the Ryder Cup at Southport & Ainsdale, Shute and Syd Easterbrook came to the 18th all square. Shute had a putt to give victory to America but ran it four feet past and missed the return. Easterbrook two-putted to give GB&I victory by one point.
At St Andrews, Shute was largely overlooked but recorded four rounds of 73, the equivalent of par on the Old Course at the time, to tie Craig Wood. Easterbrook, defending Champion Golfer Gene Sarazen and Leo Diegel all finished one behind, Diegel after remarkable having an air shot on his tap-in at the 18th which would have put him into the play-off.
Shute won the play-off by five strokes with scores of 75-74 to Wood’s 78-76. Wood went on to lose play-offs for all four majors, something only matched by Greg Norman.
Shute remains unique for posting four identical rounds to win a Major. Including the qualifying rounds, regulation play and the play-off, Shute never broke par on the Old Course. He was only the second Champion Golfer to win on debut since The Open was extended to 72 holes.
He went on to win the PGA Championship in 1936 and retain the title in 1937, the last back-to-back winner while the match play format was employed. He twice lost play-offs for the US Open, in 1939 and 1941, when Wood had his revenge. A slightly built man with a flowing swing, according to his brother Larry, Shute “played golf like he was taught by our dad – knock it down the middle, knock it on the green, and something good will happen.”