1933 British Open: Playoff Win for Shute

1933 Open Championship winner Denny Shute
Denny Shute, winner of the 1933 British Open. Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images

Denny Shute defeated Craig Wood in a playoff to win the 1933 British Open at St. Andrews. The two Americans got into that playoff with a little help from the third-round leaders they were chasing: Leo Diegel, Henry Cotton, Abe Mitchell and Syd Easterbrook.

Shute began the final round three strokes behind that quartet of leaders, and Wood one stroke behind. But Diegel and Easterbrook carded 77s, and Cotton and Mitchell 79s. Shute's 73 moved him atop the leaderboard, and Wood's 75 was good enough to get him into the playoff as well.

The following day, Shute claimed the Open title by five strokes over Wood in the 36-hole playoff. Shute shot 75 in the morning 18 to Wood's 78, then beat Wood again in the afternoon 18, 74 to 76. The final score in the playoff was 149 for Shute, 154 for Wood.

Shute later added a pair of PGA Championship wins for three career majors. Wood won a pair of majors, too, but not before losing playoffs at all four professional majors; his playoff loss at the 1933 British Open was the first of those playoff losses in majors for Wood.

Diegel, who won a pair of PGA Championships, too, could have joined Wood and Shute in the playoff but, according to the R&A's history, whiffed a putt on the 72nd green. The R&A history describes the 2-putt attempt:

"(Diegel) left the first putt virtually stone dead and crouched over the ball in his familiar style with elbows splayed wide, forearms parallel with the ground. Renowned golf correspondent Bernard Darwin reported that he missed 'by the widest possible margin.' He had, in fact, missed the ball completely. An air shot with the putter."

The R&A history also notes that during the playoff, Wood blasted a 440-yard drive. We can only guess that the Old Course fairways were mighty firm in 1933, and that Wood had a big tailwind.

Defending champion Gene Sarazen finished tied for third place, one out of the playoff.

1933 British Open Scores

Results from the 1933 British Open golf tournament played on The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland (x-won playoff; a-amateur):

x-Denny Shute 73-73-73-73--292
Craig Wood 77-72-68-75--292
Leo Diegel 75-70-71-77--293
Syd Easterbrook 73-72-71-77--293
Gene Sarazen 72-73-73-75--293
Olin Dutra 76-76-70-72--294
Henry Cotton 73-71-72-79--295
Ed Dudley 70-71-76-78--295
Abe Mitchell 74-68-74-79--295
Alf Padgham 74-73-74-74--295
Reg Whitcombe 76-75-72-72-- 295
Archie Compston 72-74-77-73--296
Ernest Whitcombe 73-73-75-75--296
Auguste Boyer 76-72-70-79--297
Arthur Havers 80-72-71-74--297
Joe Kirkwood 72-73-71-81--297
Horton Smith 73-73-75-76--297
Aubrey Boomer 74-70-76-78--298
a-Jack McLean 75-74-75-74--298
a-Cyril Tolley 70-73-76-79--298
Laurie Ayton Sr. 78-72-76-74--300
Bert Gadd 75-73-73-80--301
Walter Hagen 68-72-79-82--301
D.C. Jones 75-72-78-76--301
Fred Robertson 71-71-77-82--301
Alf Perry 79-73-74-76--302
Allan Dailey 74-74-77-78--303
a-C. Ross Somerville 72-78-75-79--304
William Spark 73-72-79-80--304
Charlie Ward 76-73-76-79--304
John Cruikshank 73-75-79-78--305
Frank Dennis 74-73-77-81--305
William Nolan 71-75-79-80--305
Roland Vickers 73-77-79-76--305
a-George Dunlap 72-74-80-80--306
Bertram Weastell 72-78-77-79--306
Stewart Burns 74-74-76-83--307
John Busson 74-72-81-80--307
Don Curtis 74-75-74-84--307
Tom Dobson 78-74-77-78--307
Joe Ezar 77-72-77-81--307
Fred Robson 76-76-79-76--307
William Twine 73-74-80-80--307
William H. Davies 74-72-80-82--308
William Davis 74-75-80-79--308
Ernest Kenyon 76-75-77-80--308
Tom Williamson 75-76-79-78--308
Jimmy Adams 75-77-76-81--309
Cecil Denny 74-78-72-85--309
Gabriel Gonzales 75-72-76-86--309
James McDowall 75-73-81-80--309
William Smith 77-73-74-85--309
a-Andrew Jamieson 75-75-76-84--310
Johnny Farrell 77-71-84-79--311
Herbert Jolly 71-78-80-82--311
John McMillan 77-74-80-81--312
Henry Sales 75-77-76-88--316
Cyril Thomson 76-74-86-88--324