Golfer; Born October 9, 1916; Died July 24, 2009. John Panton, who has died aged 92, was a world-class golfer in the days long before the advent of the European Tour. He was three times a Ryder Cup player and, during an evergreen long life, was World Seniors Matchplay Champion. He also came close in the Open several times including 1970, when at one stage he was tied ninth at St Andrews behind eventual winner Jack Nicklaus. He won £1200 for that performance which was the biggest cheque of his illustrious career. This year at Turnberry ninth place was worth £100,000. He was also 53 at the time, thus making the veteran exploits in the Open of Greg Norman at Royal Birkdale last year and Tom Watson just over a week ago nothing new.

However, Panton was never a full-time tournament professional. He won the Scottish Professional Championship eight times and the Northern Open seven times in an era five decades ago when these events had much higher standing than today. Yet he was always back in his place at the weekend in the shop at Glenbervie, a club with which he will be linked forever. He was the club professional there for almost 30 years before he retired in 1984.

Four years later he was made honorary professional to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Panton was a dominant figure of his time alongside Eric Brown. The pair teamed up 12 times for Scotland in the World Cup and were an enduring part- nership despite their differing personalities once described as "polar extremes". Brown was so outgoing and volatile that it was said he could start an argument in an empty house. Panton, who loved studying racing form, was so taciturn it was thought his greatest fear was making the winner's speech he was often called on to do.

He much preferred to let his clubs do the talking, although he did give winter lectures aided by cine film, much of it taken by himself in the days before television, and he leaves a valuable library.

A British Boys' Champion in 1934, he turned professional the following year and his first Open was at Carnoustie in 1937. He missed the cut, as did great players such as Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen.

His career was interrupted by the Second World War. He served as a gunner in Burma and Italy, sustaining wounds to his face and hands. Peter Alliss, in his autobiography, also remembers Panton telling "hair-raising stories" about driving large army wagons along precipitous roads in northern India and Afghanistan.

Panton could have chosen to become a professional footballer. A tricky inside right, he had trials for Hibernian and Dundee but opted for golf and his first big win came in 1950 in the Silver King tournament at Moor Park in Hertfordshire. There were no private jets in those days nor motorways. He drove south overnight in a Triumph Mayflower ready for a morning practice round.

He is noted more for his superb iron play and for his fine improvisation of shots than for his driving and putting and, asked to identify what he would change if he could go back, said he would have done more fitness training so he could drive the ball further.

Panton played for the then Great Britain and Ireland side against the US in the Ryder Cups of 1951, 1953 and 1961 but sadly came away with a personal record of five defeats and no wins, but there was still much success.

In 1951 he won the Vardon Trophy and five years later the British PGA Matchplay Championship at Hoylake, defeating Harry Weetman in the final. In 1959 in the Open Championship he was just four strokes behind winner Gary Player at Muirfield.

Arguably, Panton's greatest success was beating the legendary American Sam Snead at Wallasey in the final of the 1967 Senior World Matchplay Championship. Three up with three to play, Snead turned on the pressure by hitting to within six feet of the pin at the short 16th. With possibly the shot of his life, Panton matched Snead's effort, the hole was halved in 2s and the Scot was the winner.

He was made an honorary member of Glenbervie, a lifetime member of the European Tour, and when he moved south to be with his daughter Cathy Panton-Lewis, the successful Ladies European Tour player, he was given the freedom by the Sunningdale club to play whenever he liked.

One of his jobs as honorary pro at St Andrews was to tee the ball up for the captain to drive himself into office, and he did that in 2003 for Prince Andrew, a keen single-figure handicapper.

If they had played it would have been a match. Panton, at that time age 86, was given a nominal handicap of eight at Glenbervie where he had been beating his age for a decade. He might never have talked a lot about himself, but his clubs spoke volumes. By Douglas Lowe