Do you like retrospective? It’s time to take a look back at the past and relive the best of the best in the top American golf tournament.
Tiger vs Rocco at Torrey Pines (2008)
We knew Tiger was hurt before he went into Torrey Pines last year, but we didn’t know the extent until later: a double stress fracture in his left knee, along with a torn ACL. Rocco Mediate was a sectional qualifier and had no business pushing the world’s No.1 player, but there he was with a one-shot lead going into the 72nd hole. Tiger hits a 12-foot putt to force an 18-hole Monday playoff, the first playoff since 2001. After going back and forth for 17 holes, Tiger birdied the 18th again to force a one-hole playoff, and Mediate couldn’t match his par. It was quite possibly the sports moment of 2008.
Tiger runs the table at Pebble Beach (2000)
Woods wins his first US Open at venerable Pebble Beach, but it wasn’t just a victory, it was a total annihilation of the field. Woods won by 15 strokes with a -12, the only golfer to finish above par on the week. His -12 is the best score in a US Open, and the winning margin of 15 shots is the highest in a major tournament. This was also the first of the “Tiger Slam,” as Woods went on to win the next three majors. Any more questions as to why this year’s US Open odds have him as the favorite? We thought not.
Payne Stewart at Pinehurst No.2 (1999)
Stewart was one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour, known for his old-school style of dress. At Pinehurst, one of the toughest courses to ever host the US Open, Stewart dueled with Phil Mickelson down the stretch, and he needed a par on the 72nd hole to win his third major, and second US Open. Stewart hit the 15-footer to claim the championship, but sadly he never got to defend it in 2000, as he died in a plane crash only four months after his famous victory.
“The Massacre at Winged Foot” (1974)
We all saw what Winged Foot was capable of in the 2006 US Open, when Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie and most famously, Mickelson (his “I’m such an idiot” quote will always be remembered) flopped down the stretch to hand the title to Geoff Ogilvy, but the precursor for this came 22 years prior. Hale Irwin won the first of three US Opens, and his second straight after winning The Masters, with an outlandish +7 score, which was two strokes better than Forrest Fezler. It wasn’t about winning that week, it was all about survival. You know it’s a tough course when Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus shoot a +12, +13, and +14 respectively. Betting management players wouldn’t have had a chance handicapping this tournament.
Jack and Arnie at Oakmont (1962)
This was when golf really started to heat up: a 22-year-old rookie named Jack Nicklaus had the audacity to challenge “The King,” Arnold Palmer at Oakmont. Nicklaus shot a final-round 69 to get into a playoff with Palmer, and then defeated him by three strokes in the 18-hole Monday playoff. This was the first win of Nicklaus’ career, and a star was born, as well as a rivalry. It was great for golf, which was just starting to get televised, and sportsbook betting players had a challenger to “The King.”
Honorable mentions: Johnny Miller’s final-round 63 (’73), John McDermott becomes the first American to win the US Open (’11), Geoff Ogilvy outlasts the field at Winged Foot (’06)