This year marks the 114th United States Open Championship. The first US Open was held in 1895 at Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island and consisted of 36 holes. It was played on a nine hole course and all four rounds were played in a single day.There were only eleven competitors, ten amateurs and one professional. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the lone professional, Horace Rawlins from England, took home the title along with $150 and a gold medal (worth about $50). The total purse for the event was $335. Today that would be worth a little over $9,000. Not much compared to this year’s purse of $8 million, but still not a bad chunk of change.
During the US Open’s first sixteen years of existence, our friends from across the pond dominated, as players from Scotland and England won every title. It wouldn’t be until 1911 that the first American won.
John J. McDermott, a professional, would be that man. Well, young man is more like it. Not only was he the first American, he is also the youngest player to ever the win the US Open. Just a few months shy of twenty-years-old, this teenager beat out a field that included much older and more experienced golfers.
Two years later, another young competitor would create his own history. Francis Ouimet, a twenty-year-old amateur, stared down some of the game’s top professionals and slayed them with clubs handed to him by a ten-year-old kid. Their combined age was less than the individual ages of the two professionals he beat, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. His victory would go on to be the inspiration for the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played and will forever stand as the greatest David and Goliath story in the history of golf.
Jack Nicklaus is a giant in another sense of the word. His four US Open victories tie him with three other legends; Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, and Ben Hogan; for the most ever. Second to them is only Tiger Woods with three.
Tiger will not be playing this year due to back surgery, but his victory in 2000 is the most dominant performance in major history. At just twenty-five-years old he blew away the competition and won by an amazing fifteen strokes. The course at Pebble Beach was child’s play to him as it befuddled his opponents. He finished twelve strokes under par while the next closest “competitor” couldn’t even break par. His margin of victory in the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach stands as the all-time record for majors.
The US Open is quite another story for Phil Mickelson. “Lefty” has never won, but instead finished 2nd five times in a span of ten years. His 2006 loss was one of the most heartbreaking meltdowns in major history. Will this be the year he finally pulls through? Only The Fates of golf know that.
Along with its fabled history, the US Open stands apart in another way: It is the only major to have a full 18-hole playoff with a sudden death 91st hole. This sudden death hole has been required three times. Most recently in 2008 and featured the captivating and thrilling duel between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. Tiger cringed in pain on every swing, but limped all the way to victory on what was later revealed to be a broken leg.
This year’s US Open, being held at Pinehurst No. 2, is sure to create some incredible stories of its own. The course was designed by the famed Donald Ross in 1907 and recently underwent a major renovation to return it to its original conditioning and layout. It will play over 7500 yards to a par of 70. Four par 4’s will play over 500 yards and three par 3’s will play over 200 yards.
This will be the third time Pinehurst No. 2 has hosted the US Open. The following weekend, it will host its first ever Women’s US Open, making it the first ever course to host consecutive majors on back-to-back weekends.
The US Open truly is an open tournament. Anyone with a USGA Handicap Index of 1.4 or better is eligible to compete and 10,127 entrants will attempt to do just that. Only about 60 will make it and get to share the course with the world’s greatest golfers. But who knows? Maybe one of them will win. All it takes is ability, training, and practice. Lots and lots of practice.
And lots and lots of practice requires lots and lots of golf balls. Luckily, Lost Golf Balls has the name brand, top-quality golf balls you need to perfect your game.