U.S. Open Runners-up Share Brushes with Glory

1 of 3 Jacqueline Duvoisin/SI
Second Thoughts Golf fans will never forget what Rocco Mediate did at the 2008 U.S. Open...right? We asked three other U.S. Open runners-up how time has treated their brushes with Open glory. Mike Donald Medinah Country Club, 1990 Winner: Hale Irwin Bobby Knight told me, "Mike, sometimes in sports the guy that's supposed to win doesn't win, and that's what happened in your case." He had a tear in his eye. I'm an Indiana basketball guy, so it was moving for me, too. A lot of people do remember. You're somebody that came close. You're still not an Open champion. The way you're perceived is different. I would have been able to play some senior golf and had some status and been able to get my foot in the door. And when you walk in the door, people would have said, "Hey, that guy won the U.S. Open."
2 of 3 James Drake/SI
Deane Beman Champions Golf Club, 1969 Winner: Orville Moody I started out bogey, bogey, birdie, double-bogey, and then brought it back and finished very strongly the rest of the [final] round. I birdied the 72nd hole to tie, I believe, Al Geiberger and Bob Rosburg. I felt like we were heading for a playoff, but then Moody came in and beat us by a shot. In my mind I birdied the last hole to tie the Open. But it didn't happen. Back in the '60s, we had the notion that Bobby Jones defined the majors. Based on that way of counting, the '69 Open would have been my fourth major. I had won the U.S. Amateur twice and the British Amateur. At the time we all viewed it that way. Not now.
Forrest Fezler Winged Foot Golf Club, 1974 Winner: Hale Irwin It was one of my best moments in golf. The Massacre at Winged Foot. I got up and down from everywhere on Sunday and shot 70. I thought it was the beginning of my highlights. I came in second like eight times on the PGA Tour, all on tough courses. I won the 1974 Southern Open for my only win. Then I hurt my left wrist. My game was never the same. If I'd won, it would have changed my life, because if you won the U.S. Open you had a 10-year exemption. It would have catapulted my career. You win a major, you're going to have some confidence. Who knows what would have happened?