By News Team
16th September 2020
The US Open returns to Winged Foot in New York this week for the first time since Phil Mickelson’s famous 72nd hole collapse in 2006.
It’s set to be as competitive as ever, with the world’s best all preparing to bring their A-game for the second major of the year.
We’re undoubtedly set for more unbelievable US Open moments this time around, so we’ve taken a look back at some of the greatest the tournament has given us so far.
Francis Ouimet conquers the Country Club
A story so thrilling even Hollywood itself couldn’t resist. Back in 1913, The Country Club would play host to the annual US Open, with arguably the most surprising result in the history of golf.The 18-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet grew up just across the street from the famous course, but nevertheless he was very much a wildcard in a field that included British golfing legends Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.
Accompanied by his 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery, Ouimet would push the big boys all the way, forcing an 18-hole play-off with the aforementioned Vardon and Ray. After taking birdie on the 17th hole, he would seal an incredible victory which would be immortalised in the feature film, The Greatest Game Ever Played.
“I’m going to make it”
As one of the most beloved players of all time, Tom Watson is the protagonist in many a fine golfing tale. Perhaps none more so, however, than during the 1982 US Open.
Tied for the lead with the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who was conducting a TV interview as his adversary approached Pebble Beach’s famous par three 17th, Watson’s tee shot missed the green high and left, leaving a tricky pitch from the thick rough.
His caddy Bruce Edwards’ instructions were simple: “just leave it close.” But Watson would have none of it.
“I’m not going to get it close,” he said. “I’m going to make it.”
It never looked missing. Landing four feet from the hole, it duly rolled straight in to spark wild celebrations from Watson. It gave him a decisive one-shot lead, which would become two after birdie on the 18th, as he claimed his sixth major championship and his first US Open.
Clash of the Titans
Three of the biggest names in the history of the game battled it out during the 1960 US Open. Ben Hogan was aiming to win his fifth title but had to fight off Arnold Palmer and a young Nicklaus if he wanted to do it.
With both Palmer and Nicklaus pushing hard, Hogan cracked under the pressure during the 71st hole of the tournament, with his ball spinning painfully back into the water. Although Nicklaus impressed many as a 20-year-old amateur, finishing two shots back, it was Palmer’s final round 65 that would give him the victory in one of the most iconic golf tournaments in history.
Woods wins on one leg
One of the modern era’s iconic US Opens came in 2008, from Torrey Pines, with the dominant Tiger Woods looking for a 14th major title. While his major rival was Rocco Mediate, who matched him every step of the way, Woods was fighting against a host of other issues.
Coming into the event with little tournament golf under his belt, for most of the weekend he hobbled and grimaced with each shot, plagued by a left knee injury that would require surgery just two days later.
With Mediate the fourth-round clubhouse leader, Woods and Lee Westwood, who was level with Tiger, approached the final hole. They both needed to make birdie putts to force a play-off. Westwood missed his from 15 feet, leaving Woods as the only person that could force the tournament into a fifth day. His 12-footer looked as though it would just miss to the left, before breaking and catching the inside of the hole. Woods was still in it.
Woods came out the blocks early in the play-off, establishing a three-shot lead with eight holes to play, before Mediate came charging back. He notched up three consecutive birdies on the way to establishing a one-shot lead with one to play, but Woods refused to be denied. He birdied the 18th to force a sudden death play-off.
Finally, after 97 holes of golf, the pair were finally separated after Mediate’s wayward tee shot found a bunker, opening the door for Woods to seal the win. Little did we know at the time, but it would be 11 more years before we would see Tiger lift another major.