Golf’s U.S. Open tees-off this Thursday at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA. In honor of this storied tournament, we dug through golf’s history books and found some interesting facts that you might not have known about the legendary U.S. Open.
The First-Ever U.S. Open
The first ever U.S. Open was held at the Newport Country Club of Rhode Island on October 4, 1895. It was a nine-hole course designed by William Davis, the club’s first professional, in 1894. The course was later expanded to 18 holes in 1899, again with the help of Davis.
Unlike today’s U.S. Open, the first-ever tournament had only 11 entrants who completed four loops around Newport Country Club’s nine-hole course.
Englishman Horace Rawlins won the first tournament with a final score of 173 and took home a grand total of $150 and a prized gold medal for his victory.
U.S Open Records
Over the U.S. Open’s long history, many records have been broken and many still stand from its early years. Here are a few U.S. Open records that you may not have previously known:
The youngest player ever to win the Open was John J. McDermott (age 19), which he accomplished at the 1911 U.S. Open. He was also the first U.S.-born golfer (Philadelphia, PA) to win the championship. Prior to his victory, there were 16 consecutive international champions since the U.S. Open’s beginnings in 1895.
In contrast, the oldest player ever to win the U.S. Open was Hale Irwin (age 45) in 1990. This broke the previous record (age 43), which was held by both Ted Ray (1920) and Raymond Floyd (1986).
During the 1960 U.S Open, Arnold Palmer staged the greatest comeback in the history of the Open. During the final round he erased a seven-stroke deficit to complete the comeback and win his only U.S. Open championship.
Ray Ainsley holds the record for the worst single hole performance during the 1938 U.S. Open. He shanked his ball into a creek on a Par 4 (16th hole) at Cherry Hills Country Club. After it was all said and done, he posted an astounding 19 strokes for that hole.
The U.S Open’s Unlikeliest of Champions
Throughout the history of the U.S. Open, there have been five amateur champions. The most notable champion of the bunch is Francis Ouimet (1913).
The former caddy who worked at the Country Club of Brookline, MA, which was the site of the 1913 U.S. Open, squeaked out a victory over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray after an 18-hole playoff. His win was credited with helping popularize golf in the U.S.
Disney later adapted the story into a movie starring Shia LeBeouf as Ouimet: The Greatest Game Ever Played.