2011 US Open: Highlights Through History

(Story originally published by the author on The Golf Writers) While the first US Open took place in 1895, there have been many recent (i.e. “post-1900″) highlights from some of golf’s legendary players throughout the years.  In 2008, one of the most dramatic finishes involved a hobbled Tiger Woods and veteran golfer Rocco Mediate that no one is sure to forget anytime soon.  Clink the jump to read a few more examples of US Open memorable rounds and finishes, as reported on the official USGA event website.

1930 – Interlachen Country Club – Bobby Jones was already half-way into his quest of completing the “Grand Slam” and approached the final hole of the 1930 US Open.  After leaving his approach shot a good 40 feet short of the hole, Jones admitted that he was merely attempting to lag his putt as close to the hole as possible.  Instead, Jones ended up draining the putt en route to capturing the championship in impressive fashion.  Jones would go on to complete his “Slam” that season.

1960 – Cherry Hills Country Club – Arnold Palmer began the final round of the 1960 US Open seven strokes off the lead.  What is perhaps most memorable about this championship did not occur on the course, but instead within a conversation between Pittsburgh sportswriter Bob Drum and Arnie.  When told by Palmer that he could win with a 65 in the final round, Drum disagreed and told Palmer he was “too far back”.  Palmer ended up shooting his 65 before ultimately capturing the title.

1964 – Congressional Country Club – Ken Venturi trailed the lead by a full six strokes going in to the 36-hole final round which would take place amid rising temperatures in the Maryland area.  In his first 18 holes on that day, Venturi shot 66 to pull within two shots of the lead.  However, heat stroke began to take its toll on the golfing legend to the point where many were questioning if he could continue in the tournament.  Not only would Venturi play on in 100+ degree heat and heat exhaustion, he would shoot 70 in the final round and win by two shots.

1972 – Pebble Beach – Jack Nicklaus had just come off a Masters victory two months prior and returned to the site of his 1961 US Amateur victory at Pebble Beach.  Approaching the 71st hole of the tournament and nursing a three-shot lead, Nicklaus hit perhaps the greatest 1-iron ever seen which hit the flagstick and dropped within inches of the hole for an easy birdie.  The Golden Bear would eventually win by four shots with one of the highest tournament finishing scores ever at 290.

1982 – Pebble Beach – Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were deep into their new rivalry by 1982′s Open, where Jack was looking to win his record fifth championship.  Instead, it would be Watson’s year to capture the title that included a memorable chip-in birdie on the 17th to break a then-tie with Nicklaus.

1999 – Pinehurst No. 2 – Payne Stewart was joined by Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Vijay Singh as contenders for the crown on Sunday of the 1999 US Open.  It would eventually become a two-horse race between Mickelson — who was wearing a pager in anticipation of a notification from his wife Amy, who was literally moments from giving birth to their first child — and Stewart, who were paired together for the final round.  After making a 15-footer for par on 18 to capture the title, Stewart would embrace Mickelson and remind Lefty of the pride he will feel upon becoming a father.

2003 – Olympia Fields – Tom Watson, at age 53, was joined by his long-time friend and caddy Bruce Edwards who had just been diagnosed with ALS a few weeks prior.  Playing on a special exemption from the USGA, Watson would play masterfully on Day 1 of the tournament and shoot a 65 to capture the first-round lead (Jim Furyk would eventually win the title).