Famous US Open Golf Tournaments
Throughout the 100 year history of the US Open Golf Tournament, there have been many moments and Opens that will be remembered forever. Just looking back, it is difficult to choose a few to highlight.
Let's start with the astonishing 1982 Open at Pebble Beach that saw underdog favorite to win for the 5th time, Jack Nicklaus, lose to world number 1, Tom Watson, after being neck and neck throughout the tournament. At the 17th hole, Watson’s tee shot left him in the rough, which everyone assumed was the end of it. What followed is considered one of the greastest chip shots in golf history, giving Watson the lead. With cunning and determination, like he had shown in the 1977 Open, Watson managed to fight his way back and take the victory from Nicklaus. He walked away with $60,000.00 in prize money.
The next notable US Open Golf Tournament was the 1990 Open when Hale Irwin became the oldest player to win the championship at the age of 45. A tight tournament saw the two leaders, Irwin and Mike Donald, tied at the 18th on the final day after Irwin had fought his way back from training by 4 strokes entering the final round. This led to a playoff between the two on the 18th hole. After no winner emerged, a sudden death was held, where Irwin birdied the first hole to claim the victory. After this dramatic 5th round duel, Hale took his much talked about victory lap around the green, giving high fives to the spectators after sinking a 45 foot putt that tied him for the lead. He walked away with $220,000.00 in prize money.
In one of the longest US Open Golf Tournaments ever played, South African Ernie Els, won his first Majors title after 2 playoffs in a 92 round event at the Oakmont Country Club. Going into the final round Els was closely matched with rivals Colin Montgomery and Loren Roberts. In the first playoff, Montgomery was eliminated with Els and Roberts tied. The sudden death round began and Els then secured victory on the 2nd sudden death hole with a final score of 279 winning $320 000.00 in prize money.
One of the most famous and watched US Opens was in 2000 when Tiger Woods led from beginning to end and managed to win by an astonishing 15 strokes. He carded a 272 (12 under par) to win the tournament at Pebble Beach and also managed to sink a 50 foot birdie putt on the 12th hole during the second day. Playing all alone for the US Open title and for the history books, Tiger Woods became the first player to finish the US Open’s 72 holes at double digits; he set the record for the biggest stroke victory in any major golf championship beating the US Open record of 11 strokes by Willie Smith in 1899 and the 13 stroke record by Old Tom Morris at the 1862 British Open; and he became one of the 3 golfers to achieve the lowest score at the US Open. South African golfing hero and US Open Champion Ernie Els said of his victory, “I could have played out of my mind and still lost by 6 or 7. The way he (Woods) played this week was near perfect.” After winning with the lowest score of the day (a 4 under 67), Tiger Woods took a phone call from the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
A courageous win by Australian, Geoff Ogilvy in 2006, made that year’s US Open a very memorable one. He didn’t just win the Open, but he literally survived it after coming back from numerous upsets. He made a brilliant chip-in par at hole 71 to make his comeback, followed by a difficult up and down at the 72nd hole. He eventually won by one stroke, beating out rival, Phil Mickelson, to make this one of the wildest wins in the history of the US Open, and a first major tournament victory for Ogilvy. At the 71st hole, the other leaders (Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomery, and Jim Furyk) failed to par, giving Ogilvy the chance to win with an unlikely one shot advantage. Runner up, Mickelson looking for his third consecutive victory double bogeyed the last hole, giving Ogilvy the chance that he needed to take the title and a total of $1.225 million.