The Elite Eight: U.S. Open Champions at Oakmont

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Tommy Armour, 1927

1927Champion: Tommy Armour*Avg. score for the field: 78.6Rounds under par for field: 2Purse: $800Entries: 898*Defeated Harry Cooper in a playoff.HISTORY LESSONAfter taking 38 putts in the third round and 40 in the fourth, 1920 U.S. Open champ Ted Ray praised the greens and chided himself. "I thought of pasting a bit of stamp-paper on my putter blade," he said. "That slows your ball up a bit. And I tried three [different] putters — a rare thing for me. But I couldn't get the touch. Mind you, it's myself that was wrong, not the greens. The greens were the most beautiful, and the fastest, I have ever played on. But I couldn't do it."
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Sam Parks Jr., 1935

1935Champion: Sam Parks Jr.Avg. score for the field: 80.55Rounds under par for field: 3Purse: $5,000Entries: 1,125HISTORY LESSONAmong the many spectators was Edward Stimpson, the 1935 Massachusetts Amateur champion. After watching Gene Sarazen roll a putt off a green, Stimpson was convinced the greens were unreasonably fast — but wondered how he could prove it. After the event, he built a wooden device that measured the speed of the greens based on howfar a ball would roll when released from a channel. It wasn't until 1978 that the apparatus was christened the Stimpmeter.
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Ben Hogan, 1953

1953Champion: Ben HoganAvg. score for the field: 77.12Rounds under par for field: 20Purse: $14,900Entries: 1,669HISTORY LESSONThe now commonplace walkways that link tee box to tee box, and tee box to fairway, came about as a result of Ben Hogan's griping. As legend has it, with dew saturatingthe rough, Hogan complained about how soaked his shoes, socks and pants got — yet was perplexed, because he never missed a fairway. He finally realized that his trips through the rough occurred only when walking from the tee box to the fairway. The solution was to carve out "Hogan's walkways."
4 of 8 Historic Golf Photos/Ron Watts Collection

Jack Nicklaus, 1962

1962Champion: Jack Nicklaus*Avg. score for the field: 75.86Rounds under par for field: 19Purse: $81,600Entries: 2,475*Defeated Arnold Palmer in a playoff.HISTORY LESSONOn the 13th green of his 18-hole playoff with Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus struck a birdie putt, picked up his cigarette, then left it dangling from his lips as he tapped in for par. Months later, while watching a tape of the scene, Nicklaus found it so distasteful that he swore off smoking while playing tournament rounds (although hecontinued to light up off the course). Nicklaus, for the record, no longer smokes, period.
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Johnny Miller, 1973

1973Champion: Johnny MillerAvg. score for the field: 75.45Rounds under par for field: 40Purse: $219,400Entries: 3,580HISTORY LESSONMiller was three shots back after 36, but when he arrived at the course for the third round he discovered he'd forgotten his hand-written notes and course yardages. Standing on the first tee, he "broke into a cold sweat" and asked his wife Linda to retrieve his crib sheet. Meanwhile, he played the first six holes in 5 over par. When the missus finally returned, he settled down and played even par for the remainder of the round.
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Larry Nelson, 1983

1983Champion: Larry NelsonAvg. score for the field: 76.13Rounds under par for field: 27Purse: $506,184Entries: 5,039HISTORY LESSONForrest Fezler won only once on the PGA Tour, but fans might have thought he was Superman when, after he putted out on the 71st hole, he ducked into a portapotty and emerged wearing a pair of navy blue shorts. The wardrobe change, he said, was a thumbed nose at the USGA which forced players to wear pants "when it's 95 degrees." Fezler bogeyed the 72nd hole on his way to a 77, but made history by becoming the only player to bare his legs in a major.
7 of 8 Kathy Willens/AP

Ernie Els, 1994

1994Champion: Ernie Els*Avg. score for the field: 74.25Rounds under par for field: 62Purse: $1.75 millionEntries: 6,010*Defeated Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie in a playoff.HISTORY LESSONViewers watching ABC's telecast of the Monday playoff were treated to Loren Roberts sinking a clutch putt to tie Ernie Els and force sudden death. However, couch potatoes missed Roberts' six-foot putt to save par at the first extra hole when the network switched to breaking news on the arraignment of O.J. Simpson. (Clearly Judge Ito wasn't a golf fan.) Roberts lost to Els on the next hole.
8 of 8 Rob Tringali/Sportschrome

Angel Cabrera, 2007