U. S. Open Golf History
One of the most famed stops along the PGA Tour is the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. The United States Golf Association has conducted the United States Open Championship since 1895 and becoming a U.S. Open Champion is one of the biggest achievements in golf. The national golf championship of the United States is one of the four major professional golf championships played each year, along with The Open, The Masters, and the PGA championship. Because of its high standing and long history, there are many noteworthy facts associated with the event.
When the USGA initiated the U.S. Open, it was played concurrently with the then larger and more prestigious U.S. Amateur Championship. English professional Horace Rawlins was the first winner of the 36-hole event, which was played on the 9-hole Newport Golf and Country Club course in Rhode Island. In the early years, U.S. Open contestants were mostly American amateurs and British professionals.
No American golfer had ever won his own national championship until John McDermott accomplished that feat in 1911.
In 1913, an unknown 20-year-old Boston amateur named Francis Ouimet shocked the golf world by defeating seasoned English professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff at the Country Club, which is the United States oldest golf club. Americans dominated the event for the next 90 years, failing to win in only three contests.
Who has won the most U.S. Open’s?
The record for the most U.S. Open victories is not held by just one man. The record isn’t even a tie between two or three people. The record for most U.S. Open victories is held by four golfers; Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus. They are tied with four victories apiece.
Several championships marked significant milestones in golf history.
In 1930, Bobby Jones won his fourth and last U.S. Open in the same year he captured the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the British Amateur championships. No one else has ever won these four titles in a single year and it seems unlikely it will happen again.
In 1960, Arnold Palmer won his first U.S. Open over an aging Ben Hogan and a young Jack Nicklaus. Two years later, Nicklaus returned the favor when he defeated Palmer in a playoff for the first of his 18 major championship victories.
Tiger Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes at Pebble Beach, establishing his absolute dominance of the game. He went on to win the next three major championships in succession to become the only player to simultaneously hold the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship and Masters titles.
Recently, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy did the unthinkable by breaking the record for most strokes under par through 72 holes. In 2011, McIlroy finished 16 shots under par, beating fellow foreigner Jason Day by eight strokes. Koepka would do the same in 2017 at Erin Hills Golf Course, but with a slimmer yet impressive four shot margin of victory over runner-up Brian Harman.
Where have the most U.S. Opens been held?
While the U.S. Open moves year to year, there are some familiar faces to the tournament. At the top of the list is Oakmont Country Club which has hosted the U.S. Open nine times. It last hosted in 2016, where Dustin Johnson won by three strokes.
Since 1999, Pebble Beach and Pinehurst hold the record for most hostings with three. This includes Payne Stewart's iconic win at Pinehurst’s first hosting of the U.S. Open
Arnold Palmer’s victory in 1960 required a final-round 65 for him to come from seven strokes behind for the win. Johnny Miller overcame the same deficit with a final-round 63 that propelled him to victory in 1973. For an exhibition of sheer determination, it would be hard to match Ben Hogan’s win in 1950 following his near fatal auto accident the year before.
Tiger Woods’ win over Rocco Mediate in 2008 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California ranks among the best head-to-head matches in U.S. Open history. It was compelling not only because of the contrast in the players’ rankings and styles, but also because Woods played on a severely injured knee throughout the week. Woods would birdie the last hole and send the tournament to an 18-hole playoff and was ultimately decided by sudden death.
Rise of International Players
In 1965, Gary Player became the first foreign U.S. Open Winner in 40 years, ending a streak of American winners that had persisted since pre-World War II. Since that time international players have continued to contend and very often win. In fact the past two champions, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick, were highly ranked international players. Other foreign players to win the U.S. Open Championship include Angel Cabrera, Graeme McDowell, Tony Jacklin, Martin Kaymer, and more.
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