The US Open, like two of the other three majors of the golfing world, rotates between a number of top-class courses and as such there has been a great variety in the styles of US Open courses and tournaments we’ve witnessed over the years.
As with the other majors, many of the legends of the game have had success in the US Open, but there have also been some true greats who missed out, notably Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Sam Snead. Often unpredictable, but always exciting, the US Open always throws up some great golfing moments.
Latest US Open Offers, Tips & News
US Open History
The US Open was first contested in 1895, making it the second oldest major behind the British Open, which was founded in 1860. To put that into perspective, Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895, rugby league was created and the Nobel Prize was founded. In other words, this is a tournament with a serious history.
In terms of the calendar year, the US Open follows the Masters and takes place on the third weekend in June, around a month before The Open, concluding on Father’s Day. As with the first Open, the first US Open took place in October and also as with The Open it was played over 36 holes in a single day at the nine-hole Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. 21-year-old Horace Rawlins, an Englishman, was victorious all those years ago, taking home $150 and a gold medal worth $50.
In 1898 the US Open was extended to 72 holes, although was played over just two days. Willie Anderson, a Scottish pro, claimed his third consecutive title in 1905 and, as of 2015, remains the only player to have ever managed this feat, although several players, including most recently Curtis Strange (in 1988 and 1989) and Ben Hogan (in 1950 and 1951) have won two in a row. Indeed, Hogan won four titles in six years between 1948 and 1953, finishing third in 1952 and missing the 1949 US Open due a car accident that came close to killing him.
An American didn’t win the US Open until John J. McDermott in 1911, who then defended his title a year later, after English and Scottish players dominated the early tournaments. In 1914 Walter Hagen won the first of his 11 major championships, leading an American charge that saw home players win the vast majority of events until recent times.
In 1926 play was split to three days, with 18 holes on each of the first two, before 36 holes on the third and final day. As with all four Majors, the US Open is open to both amateurs and professionals and five amateurs have won the US Open, the last being John Goodman in 1933. Both men and women can play, although a woman is yet to qualify. There are various qualification and exemption categories, with players having a handicap of no more than 1.4 open to try and book their spot among the field of 156 players that tee up every year.
The current four-round, four-day format wasn’t adopted until as recently as 1965, Gary Player winning that year to break up a run of consecutive US winners that would otherwise have reached from 1926 through to 1970! In 1976 the current scheduling in terms of dates was fixed, with Jerry Pate winning that year’s US Open on Father’s Sunday.
The US Open is without doubt a real highlight of the golf year and coming just a month before the Open Championship it starts a wonderful summer of golf. With more than 100 years of great history and the unique challenge the course provides, the US Open is, for many Americas at least, THE major.
It provides a massive challenge to players, with penal rough, hard greens and yardage often in excess of 7,200 yards … on courses frequently laid out as par-70s! The 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay was heavily criticised, with greens being labelled by various players as a disgrace and descriptions including like broccoli and the surface of the moon! Such criticism is nothing new to the US Open though, with perhaps the most famous description ever applied to it coming from pundit Johnny Miller, who said the 2005 event at Pinehurst was like “trying to hit a ball on top of a VW Beetle”.
Despite the criticism the USGA continue to design the US Open in such a way that a score of around level par is often enough to win. Conditions might not be easy for players but the US Open remains a great tournament and an even better betting opportunity – especially if you take advantage of a free bet or two!
US Open Trivia
- Play-off – one of many unique features of the US Open is the 18 hole play-off that is employed in the event of a tie, with sudden death only coming into play if players remain tied
- Oldest and Youngest – the oldest and youngest winners in US Open history are Hale Irwin and John McDermott who won at the age of 45 and 19 in 1990 and 1911 respectively
- Spectators – in 1922 the US Open sold spectators tickets for the first time
- Play-off, That’s Not a Play-Off! – whilst an 18 hole play-off might seem a bit lengthy, the longest play-off in US Open history came in 1931, when Billy Burke and George Von Elm played a total of 144 holes!
- Jack – Jack Nicklaus, probably the finest golfer in history, won a record four US Opens, the last of which came in 1980, before playing his 44th and final US Open in 2000 at the age of 60!
- Rest of the World – US players were hugely dominant for almost 100 years from 1911, non-US players winning just 10 US Opens until 2001. However, between 2001 and 2014 they won just six, with players from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Northern Ireland, England and Germany all winning in that period
- Tiger Time – Tiger Woods may yet win another major but he is unlikely to reach the heights he hit in 2000 when he won at Pebble Beach by 15 shots, one of the greatest ever performances in a major. He won the US Open again in 2008, his third success in this event
- Money, Money, Money – the winner in the early years won $150, with winners in some years (1913, 1915 and 1916) winning nothing. Move forward to 2015 and Jordan Spieth took home a cool $1.8m!
- Public Course – in 2002 Bethpage State Park’s Black Course became the first public golf course to host the US Open
- Close But No Cigar – Phil Mickleson has been runner-up four times at the US Open, without winning, a record shared with Sam Snead. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer also came close four times but Nicklaus won four titles and Palmer won one, in 1960, beating off a then-amateur Nicklaus into second that year