The U.S. Open captivates thousands of golf fans not only in the U.S., but around the world. The various daunting courses and dramatic moments have helped to popularize the prestigious game of golf. With this year being the 117th U.S. Open, you can see how the history continues to keep us engaged, and the players always enjoy the high stakes and competition of the second major tournament of the calendar year. So lets take a look at my Top 10 U.s Open Moments!
10. 2006 U.S. Open Geoff Ogilvy Prevails
At Winged Foot Golf Club, Phil Mickelson stood on the tee needing only a par to win the U.S Open and halfway to winning the Grand Slam after already winning the Masters back in April. However, his drive took off to the left bouncing off of a tent and leading to his inevitable demise with a double bogey. This allowed Australian Geoff Ogilvy to make a crucial up and down a couple of groups prior to win his only major championship so far. It was truly a dramatic ending that no one saw coming.
9. 1973 U.S. Open Johnny Miller
During the final round at Oakmont Country Club, Johnny Miller blows away the field with one the best final round performances in major tournament golf. He hit all 18 greens and only needed a mere 29 putts to lift up the trophy. Miller’s blistering 63 is still the best round to date for any major championship.
8. 2000 U.S. Open Tiger Destroys The Field
At the always famous and beautiful Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods never let up. From his first tee shot, to his final putt on 18, Tiger dismantled the course and everybody chasing with a record 15 shot victory. No one has come close to beating it.
7. 1960 U.S. Open Palmer Emerges Victorious
In 1960, three generations of golfers sat atop the leader board entering the final day. Legendary Ben Hogan, young Jack Nicklaus, and “The King”, Arnold Palmer. Palmer’s aggressive playing proved to be the difference maker as he drove the 1st hole par 4 and sank an easy birdie prompting him to his final round 65. It was an incredible comeback as starting the day, Arnie was seven shots back of Mike Souchak. He birdied six of the first seven holes including the tough 1st. The win had a huge impact on Palmer’s already successful career as it gained him immense popularity.
6. 1962 U.S. Open “The Golden Bear” Strikes
Yet again we stop at historic Oakmont in Pennsylvania which is just down the road from where Arnold Palmer was born. It would have surely been fitting if the favorite and hometown hero could’ve won, but he unfortunately did not. Little known rookie Jack Nicklaus stormed into contention and forced an 18 hole which he ultimately won shocking the patrons and viewers alike. It was Jack’s first of 18 majors.
5. 1982 U.S. Open Tom Watson’s Stunner
Tom Watson had dominated golf in the late 70s and into the 80s and was the perennial favorite to win in 82. But veteran and rival Jack Nicklaus had chased him down into a tie. On the famous and dreaded par 3 17th at Pebble Beach, Watson hit his tee shot into the deep and thick rough surrounding the green and overlooking the ocean. Watson had to chip and his caddie Bruce Edwards told him to “Get it close”. Watson responded by saying, “I’m gonna hole it!” Well, Watson did make his chip and he ran around the green yelling and jumping like a mad man shouting, “I told you!” This win boosted Tom’s phenomenal resume.
4. 1999 U.S. Open The Epic Dual
Payne Stewart and Phil Mickelson battled it out at Pinehurst Country Club. Stewart had a one shot lead standing on the 18th tee box, but he hit a poor shot, forcing to lay up on the par 4. The door was open for Mickelson who had a birdie putt to win but it flew past the hole. Stewart had a 15 footer for par to win and escape an 18 hole playoff the next day. He buried it and the jubilation his face and in the crowd was unforgettable. The scene after the putt was awesome as Phil congratulated Payne on the victory and Payne embraced him by grabbing Phil’s face and pulling him close. Throughout the tournament Phil had a beeper to let him know if his wife Amy would be going into labor in giving birth to his daughter. She was born the following day. Amidst the triumph of Payne’s Stewart’s 2nd U.S. open victory, he tragically was killed in a plane crash only a few months later. Stewart’s legacy and personality were so bright and strong. He will always be remembered.
3. 2008 U.S. Open Tiger Being Tiger
On the 18th hole at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego, stood an aging Tiger Woods. He had a torn ACL and two micro fractures in his left leg and was faced with a 12 foot putt with plenty of movement. Woods walked the ball in the whole way and when it snuck in the right side of the hole he let out a scream of exhilaration and joy. He had forced an 18 hole playoff with Rocco Mediate. He made another clutch putt on the 18th hole of the playoff to keep it going. Finally on the 19th hole Woods defeated Mediate concluding an epic tournament. It is still Tiger’s last major win and he took the rest of 2008 off to take reconstructive surgery.
2. 1913 U.S. Open The Most Unlikely Of Champions
2o year old former caddie and amateur American golfer Francis Ouimet took center stage during the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline Club in Massachusetts. He grew up right near the course and was ready to shock everybody, and indeed he did! Ouimet was in 18 hole playoff with two of the games greats in Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. Ouimet birdied 17 and shot a 72 for the playoff winning in dramatic fashion. This helped captivate America’s attention as it was front page news all over the country and sparked interest in the golf which had been previously dominated by European golfers. Ouimet’s story has been taken to Hollywood in “The Greatest Game of Golf” starring Shia LeBouf which came out in 2005.
1. 1950 U.S. Open Hogan Hits A Beauty
After overcoming a near fatal car wreck the year before as his car collided head on with a bus, Ben Hogan somehow ignored the doctors concerns of him never being able to walk again to now competing in yet another U.S. Open. On the 18th hole at Merion, Hogan hit a fabulous 1 Iron right in the heart of the green, he hobbled to the green fighting through his multiple injuries and sank a clutch par putt forcing an 18 hole playoff. He capped off his amazing comeback when he won the playoff the next day beating out both Lloyd Mangrom and George Fazio. Bantam Ben won his record-tying 4th U.S. Open and this one was special.
I hope you like and agree with my list. Be sure to stay tuned to this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin as some more memorable moments are going to come!