With the second major of the year at Oakmont Country Club fast approaching, here are 10 stats about the U.S. Open you probably didn’t know.
We know the U.S. Open is a bear, but it was more like a cub in 1896. That’s when the U.S. Open played just 4,423 yards at Shinnecock Hills G.C. in Southampton, N.Y., making it the shortest U.S. Open track in history. For reference, Shinnecock now plays 5,375 from the whites — its shortest tee box — and is 6,996 as a par 70 for the U.S. Open.
Recognize that number? You should. How about another Nicklaus record involving 18? In this case, we’re talking top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open, good for the most ever. Nicklaus also tied the record for most top-5 finishes (11), runner-up finishes (four) and victories (four). It shouldn’t surprise anyone he holds this record, but 18 top-10 finishes at a U.S. Open might be a Hall of Fame career on its own.
In 1911, at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois, John McDermott became the youngest U.S. Open winner in history at just 19 years old. Eat your heart out Jordan Spieth.
Sam Snead won a lot on the PGA Tour, his 82 wins being the all-time mark. And you need longevity to achieve a record like that, something Tiger Woods, just three wins short, knows all too well. In 1973, Sam Snead became the old player to make a cut at the U.S. Open at 61. And he wasn’t just a body out there making the cut, he actually finished T29.
This has to be the most surprising stat on the list. It’s not Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer who lead the most rounds after 18, 36 and/or 54 holes. It’s the late Payne Stewart, who won two U.S. Open titles.
In 2011, Rory McIlroy won one of the most impressive U.S. Opens we’ve ever witnessed. He picked Congressional apart, finishing 16-under for the best round relative to par in tournament history. You probably remember that. Do you remember who finished second? It was Jason Day, who shot 8-under, which had been the record for best score relative to par since Woods at Pebble in 2000, when he shot 12-under.
History remembers Johnny Miller’s final-round 63 at Oakmont as best comeback in U.S. Open history, potentially the best in major championship history. “Best” can be debated, but it wasn’t the biggest. In 1960, Arnold Palmer shot 65 at Cherry Hills to make up seven shots for the U.S. Open title. It was the largest final round comeback in tournament history.
Imagine if you could win a U.S. Open by shooting 91. That’s exactly what Horace Rawlins did at Newport Golf Club way back in 1895. Rawlins went 91-82 to win the title and the $150 prize.
We know the U.S. Open is tough. The USGA fancies it the most challenging tournament in golf. So it must make Mike Davis smile to see this number: the most rounds over par in the field — and it’s happened twice. Oakland Hills (1951) and Bloomfield Hills (1996) each forced 432 rounds over par.
Just beacuse you’re good enough to qualify for the U.S. Open doesn’t mean you’re immune from a blow-up hole. Just ask Ray Ainsley, who recorded a 19 on the 16th hole at Cherry Hills in the 1938 U.S. Open, the highest score on a hole at the Open.
**All statistics via USGA