BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP)A capsule look at key anniversaries for this year’s U.S. Open championship at The Country Club outside Boston on June 16-19:
100 years ago (1922)
Gene Sarazen won the first of his seven major championships in the 1922 U.S. Open at Skokie Country Club in the north Chicago suburbs, an Open that first introduced a young amateur from Georgia named Bobby Jones. This was a tight affair from the start. Walter Hagen, coming off a British Open victory, opened with a 68 to take the lead. John Black took the lead after the second round that same day. In the third round, the 20-year-old Jones shot 70 to share the 54-hole lead with Bill Melhorn, with Hagen and Sarazen another shot behind. The 20-year-old Sarazen closed with a 2-under 68. Black was tied for the lead when he hit his tee shot out-of-bounds on the 17th and made double bogey. He made birdie on the final hole to join Jones as the runner-up. A month later, Sarazen won the PGA Championship at Oakmont. Jones would win the first of his seven majors the following year at the U.S. Open.
75 years ago (1947)
Lew Worsham won his only major in the 1947 U.S. Open at St. Louis Country Club in a playoff over Sam Snead, and with Britain will recovering from World War II, it marked the 17th consecutive major won by an American. But this U.S. Open was all about the runner-up. The U.S. Open was the only major Snead never won, and the heartache was most severe in 1939 when he made triple bogey on the final hole to miss a playoff by one shot. This one was just as bad, and a lot awkward. In the 18-hole playoff, Snead had a two-shot lead with three holes to play. Worsham made a 25-foot birdie on the 16th. Snead missed the green and made bogey on the 17th. On the final hole, Snead had 15 feet for birdie and Worsham was 40 feet away just off the green. He chipped to about 2+ feet. Snead’s birdie for the win came up 30 inches short. He went to tap in when Worsham interrupted to ask for a ruling on who was farther away. Out came the tape measure, and Snead was away by an inch. And then he missed the putt. Worsham rapped in his par for a 69 to win by one.
50 years ago (1972)
Jack Nicklaus, the Masters champion, had a one-shot lead in the 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach over defending champion Lee Trevino and two others, with Arnold Palmer another shot behind going into the final round. With clouds in the forecast, the USGA decided not to water the greens, but strong westerly winds dried out the course and took a toll on the leaders. Nicklaus was in control until a gust nearly knocked him off his feet during his swing on No. 10, and his drive wound up on the beach. He took double bogey. Nicklaus was three shots ahead on the par-3 17th when he hit a 1-iron into the wind. The ball landed a foot in front of the hole, hit the pin and stopped 6 inches away for birdie, one of the most iconic moments at Pebble Beach. He closed with a 74 for a three-shot victory over Bruce Crampton for the second leg of the Grand Slam and his third U.S. Open title.
25 years ago (1997)
Ernie Els won the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional, his second U.S. Open title, in a major that was lost as much as it was won. Tom Lehman had the 54-hole lead for the third straight U.S. Open and was one shot behind the Big Easy when he pulled his approach on the 17th hole off the side of the green and into the water, covering his head with his hands. He made bogey, shot 73 and finished two shots behind. Colin Montgomerie was in the penultimate group with Els and was tied until he stood over a 5-foot par putt for the longest time until missing. Els closed with a 69, no shot more memorable than a 5-iron from 212 yards on the 17th to 12 feet. He had to settle for par, but compared with Lehman and Montgomerie, it was the difference in winning. It was the first major since Tiger Woods broke 20 records in winning the Masters. At the U.S. Open, Woods finished 10 shots behind in a tie for 19th.
20 years ago (2002)
Thirty years after Jack Nicklaus got halfway to the Grand Slam, Tiger Woods matched him. He won the Masters, and then added the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, the first time the U.S. Open was staged on a truly public course. It was billed as the ”People’s Open.” It came down to one person. Woods had a 2-over 72 on the final day for a three-shot victory over Phil Mickelson, and he was the only player to finish under par. Unlike the Masters, he had to work for this one thanks to Mickelson’s late charge. The defining moment came on the par-5 13th when Woods smoked a 2-iron from 263 yards onto the green that set up a two-putt birdie and ended the final challenge. Woods won wire-to-wire for the second time in a U.S. Open. He led by three shots over Padraig Harrington after 36 holes and by four holes over Sergio Garcia going into the final round. Mickelson, five behind at the start, closed to within two shots until Woods made his birdie on the 13th. It was the second of a record six runner-up finishes for Mickelson in the U.S. Open.
10 years ago (2012)
Webb Simpson won his only majors in the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, the course known as the ”Graveyard of Champions.” It claimed a few more major champions at this one. Simpson started the final round four shots behind, and after a pair of early bogeys, he played the final 13 holes without a bogey and shot 68. And then it was time to wait. Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, and Graeme McDowell, who won his Open at Pebble Beach two years earlier, were tied for the 54-hole lead and still tied for the lead on the back nine. McDowell bogeyed the 13th and 14th holes and never caught up. Furyk was tied at 1-over par through 15 holes and had back-to-back par 5s in front of him. But on the 16th, the USGA moved the tee forward by some 100 yards. Furyk hooked a fairway metal off the tee and wound up making bogey. He failed to birdie the 17th. And needing birdie on the final hole to force a playoff, he made bogey. McDowell birdied he 17th, but his 25-foot birdie chance on the 18th stayed left of the cup. Of the other casualties at Olympic — Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart — only Stewart went on to win a major. Furyk was a runner-up in two more majors, but never won another.
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