With the US Open in full swing at Erin Hills, Wisconsin, Chris Lyles tees up a few facts and figures about the second-oldest of golf’s four major championships.
- The first US Open was played on 4 October 1895 on a nine-hole course at the Newport Country Club in Rhode Island and was won by 21-year-old Englishman Horace Rawlins, who beat nine other professionals and one amateur to win the $150 first prize (paid in cash) and a $50 gold medal. It was a 36-hole tournament and was completed in a single day.
- Francis Ouimet, who is often referred to as “the father of amateur golf”, became the first amateur and only the second American to win the US Open when he beat British golfers Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, both of Jersey, at Brookline, Massachusetts in an 18-hole playoff in 1913. Ouimet’s caddy was a 10-year-old boy called Eddie Lowery, who was barely taller than some of the unforgiving rough witnessed at Erin Hills this week. Lowery went on to become a multi-millionaire businessman and talented amateur golfer who mixed with the likes of Bob Hope and sponsored many amateur golfers. He also remained firm friends with Ouimet and acted as a pallbearer at his funeral in 1967.
- No one has won the US Open five times, but four players (Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus) have won it on four occasions while Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods are three-time winners.
- Woods’ US Open victory at Torrey Pines, California in 2008 remains the last major that he won. Given that his first major victory came in the 1997 Masters, it is only two years’ hence that the length of Woods’ drought in majors will equal the duration (11 years) it took for him to muster his 14 major titles. Unless of course he is triumphant in a major in the meantime… long odds against, I’d reckon.
- Phil Mickelson has been runner-up or joint runner-up in the US Open on a record six occasions. It is the only major title that he has never won, a statistic that will continue for at least another year after the left-hander withdrew before this year’s tournament to be at his daughter’s graduation in California.
- This US Open at Erin Hills is the first major since the 1994 Masters not to have featured either Woods or Mickelson.
- The US Open is notorious for its challenging set-up, as was exemplified by this week’s complaints about the tall, thick rough. Seve Ballesteros once said that the US Open “has always been a sad tournament. There is no excitement, no enjoyment. It is all defensive golf, from the first tee to the last putt”.
- The first of Rory McIlroy’s four majors came when he won the US Open in 2011, with his 16 under-par 268 being the lowest score for 72 holes in the history of the tournament. Since then – and including this year – the Northern Irishman has missed the cut three times while experiencing a best finish of ninth.