The US Open in the Decades: History and Memorable Moments

Now that the 2014 US OPEN has arrived, it brings us back to the history of the most memorable moments through the years. We will bring this to you through the official Major website to reminiscence on the greatest moments in US OPEN golf history.

2013 — Justin Rose needed to make a par on Merion’s difficult par-18th hole to win his first major championship, and he came through. After a good drive in the fairway, Rose striped a 4-iron from 229 yards out that landed on the green and rolled past the flagstick to the back collar. He got up and down to become the first English champion of the U.S. Open since 1970.


2011 — The Rory runaway at Congressional was in evidence at the halfway mark, when McIlroy shot 65-66 to set a scoring record for the first 36 holes of a U.S. Open. The Northern Irishman followed that up with two more rounds in the 60s to post a 72-hole total of 268, breaking the previous record by four strokes. At 22 years/1 month/15 days, McIlroy also became the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bob Jones in 1923.


2008 —Tiger Woods converted a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie Rocco Mediate and force an 18-hole playoff the following day, which he would win on the first extra hole. That do-or-die putt in front of a raucous gallery surrounding the 18th green at Torrey Pines, and Woods’ victory on what later turned out to be a fractured leg, represent one of the most dramatic championship weeks in U.S. Open history.


2000 — Dominance was the word most associated with Tiger Woods’ performance at Pebble Beach, as he posted a 12-under-par winning total of 272 and won by a whopping 15 strokes. Woods played his first 22 holes and last 26 holes without a bogey. A microcosm of his week came on the second day, as play was about to conclude due to darkness. Facing a long birdie putt at the par-3 12th hole, Woods stepped up and drained the 50-footer.


1999 —The final round at Pinehurst No. 2 began with Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Payne Stewart all in contention. Mickelson’s presence was magnified by the fact that his wife, Amy, was due to give birth to the couple’s first child at any moment. At 18, Stewart faced a 15-foot par putt for the win, which he calmly holed before celebrating with caddie Mike Hicks and giving encouraging advice to the would-be father and runner-up, Mickelson.
1995 — Shinnecock Hills isn’t overly long by modern standards, but requires patience and the ability to play a variety of shots. Corey Pavin thought it could be the ideal venue for him to get his first major title, and he was right. With a final-round 68, the Californian saved his best shot for last, drilling a 5-wood from the fairway at the 72nd hole to set up a two-putt par as Greg Norman and Tom Lehman faltered down the stretch.
1992 — Blustery conditions at Pebble Beach took over the championship and sent scores into the stratosphere. Third-round leader Tom Kite was about to be blown off course when he came to the short par-3 seventh hole. His 6-iron missed to the left and his pitch shot was screaming across the green when it hit the flagstick and plopped in the hole for an improbable birdie that saved his round and led him to victory.
1990 — Hale Irwin took full advantage of his U.S. Open special exemption in 1990 at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club. Irwin trailed by four strokes entering the final round, but he carded a 5-under 31 on the back nine that included a 45-footer for birdie at the last. The putt sent the crowd, and Irwin, into a frenzy, and he went on to defeat Mike Donald in a playoff the following day.
1984 — There seems to be some discrepancy in the details surrounding Fuzzy Zoeller’s waving a white towel ceremoniously after Greg Norman holed a long par putt at Winged Foot. Some believed he was surrendering to Norman, but Zoeller has stated that he waved the towel as a light-hearted gesture. Zoeller parred 18 and then fired a sizzling 67 in the playoff to beat Norman by eight shots.
1982 — Jack Nicklaus was looking for a record fifth U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach, but Tom Watson, like he did at the 1977 British Open at Turnberry, out-dueled his rival. Watson was tied with Nicklaus when his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole found the deep rough. Caddie Bruce Edwards told him to “get it close,” but Watson retorted, “I’m not going to get it close, I’m going to make it.”
1976 — Jerry Pate, at 22, played like a veteran and came to the final hole at Atlanta Athletic Club with a one-shot lead over 1975 runner-up John Mahaffey. Pate’s drive found the right rough, leaving him a treacherous approach over water. Mahaffey’s 3-wood approach from the heavy grass found the water, but Pate caught a good lie and he took full advantage, drilling a 5-iron from 194 yards to within 3 feet of the hole.
1973 — “Secretariat-type applause.” Those words from television announcer Chris Schenkel said it all about the final-round performance by Johnny Miller as the 26-year-old completed the 18th hole at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. Miller entered Sunday six shots back of a quartet that included Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros, Jerry Heard and John H. Schlee, but fired a 63 to set the U.S. Open 18-hole scoring record.
1972 — Jack Nicklaus came into the 1972 Open at Pebble Beach fresh off a victory at the Masters in April. Even with the weather turning downright miserable on the final Sunday, Nicklaus still managed to hold a three-stroke lead over Bruce Crampton through 70 holes. Playing into the teeth of the wind at the difficult par-3 17th, Nicklaus fired a 1-iron tee shot that hit the flagstick and stopped inches from the hole for a tap-in birdie.
1971 — Lee Trevino always had a penchant for being a bit of a comedian on the golf course, and at Merion Golf Club he decided to release the tension of his 18-hole playoff with Jack Nicklaus. He remembered that his daughter had left a toy snake in his golf bag, so he grabbed the rubbery object and playfully tossed it at Nicklaus, getting a scream from a nearby woman and a hearty laugh from Nicklaus. Now loosened up, Trevino shot a 68 to defeat Nicklaus by three strokes.
1964 — Torrid temperatures enveloped Congressional Country Club and took its toll on the competitors, especially Ken Venturi. A third-round 66 put him within two shots of leader Tommy Jacobs, but Venturi was visibly shaking down the stretch. He was given tea and salt tablets to combat his dehydration and was advised by a doctor to withdraw. Venturi declined, and his perseverance paid off with a 70 and a four-stroke victory.
1962 — In Arnold Palmer’s backyard at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, Jack Nicklaus would out-duel the crowd favorite in an 18-hole playoff before some 10,000 spectators. As the playoff came to a conclusion, Palmer tried to concede a short putt to Nicklaus, but since it was stroke play, he had to putt out as a matter of formality. Nevertheless, this would become the first of four Open triumphs for Nicklaus.
1960 — Arnie’s Army enjoyed its finest charge at Cherry Hills, where Palmer was seven strokes off the lead entering the final 18 holes. After lunch between the two rounds on that final day, Pittsburgh sportswriter Bob Drum allegedly told Palmer after The King thought he could win with a 65, “No. You’e too far back.” Palmer then went out and drove the par-4 first hole en route to a 65 and a two-stroke victory over 20-year-old amateur Jack Nicklaus.
1955 — Ben Hogan appeared on his way to a record fifth U.S. Open title at The Olympic Club until unheralded Jack Fleck holed an 8-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to force a playoff. While everyone expected Fleck to fold in the playoff, it was Hogan who surprisingly succumbed to the pressure, hitting his tee shot on 18 into deep rough en route to a double-bogey 6.
1950 — Sixteen months after a near-fatal car accident, Ben Hogan mustered enough strength to compete at Merion Golf Club. Needing a par at the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio, Hogan hit his famous 1-iron approach to 40 feet and two-putted for par. The next day, Hogan won his second of four Open titles with a 69, beating Mangrum by four and Fazio by six.
1947 — Sam Snead looked back on the memorable moment in his playoff against Lew Worsham in the 1947 U.S. Open at St. Louis Country Club, when the USGA’s Ike Grainger had to use a ruler to determine who was away on the 18th hole. It was Snead, who would miss his short putt to fall to Worsham by a stroke. “That’s the only regret I have, ever, is not winning the U.S. Open,” he said.

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