US Open Golf

As one of the four majors, the US Open is widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of the men’s game in golf. It was first established in 1895 and over the last 120+ years it’s remained relatively true to its routes of allowing both amateur and professional players to play in the same completion.

The tournament is held every year and takes place across a range of courses throughout the US. The courses are one of the more interesting aspects to the event as they are generally set up to be about as tough as you find. Compared with regular PGA Tour events, the US Open on average plays several shots harder, highlighting both the severity of the courses and the fact that only the best players will prosper. 

The courses are chosen on a rota basis and each year will be at a different course. Course layout, severity, facilities and the ability to host tens of thousands of fans over the span of the 4 days are the main criteria for course selection. As it’s held in the middle of June each year means that the climate does play a role, with the North East of America hosting significantly more US Open’s than any other area across the US. 

About

One of the reasons why the US Open holds such high esteem in the golfing world is that technically any player with a handicap of 1.4 or better can qualify to play alongside the professionals. Each year the field will include 156 players and from that a host of qualifiers are played for access into the event. 

Amateur players can gain entry by either being the winner or runner –up from the previous year’s US Amateur, the winner of the Amateur Championship, the top ranked amateur in the world, US mid-amateur and US junior amateur champions. 

From the professionals, the top 60 from the Official World Golf Rankings are all exempt, along with previous major winners, winners of high-profile tournaments such as the Players, BMW PGA and Tour Championship, including that of players on the senior tour as well. A series of qualifying events are held around the world, open for both professional and amateurs alike. 

The tournament itself includes four rounds, which starts on the Thursday and run through to the Sunday. Each round includes 18 holes in total and the format is that of strokeplay. After 36 holes a cut is made, with the top 70 and ties or players within 10 shots of the lead. The remaining players all get to play over the weekend and the player with the lowest number of strokes across 72 holes will be deemed the winner.

The US Open is unique in that it’s the only one of the four majors that will play an 18-hole play-off the following day should one or more players be tied on the same score. The players will all start from scratch and then the winner will be the lowest score over 18 holes. If scores are still tied then a sudden-death format will then be played. Since 1950 the US Open has only ever had 3 play-off rounds in 1990, 1994 and 2008. 

The US Open has a couple of high profile tournaments that lead up to the event in the form of the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic the week before and the Memorial Tournament, the week before that. The two events are often seen as part of a busy swing for the professional tour, with the major of players looking to hone their skills in order to be ready for one of the biggest prizes in golf. 

The course rota is one of the most anticipated and debated in the golf when it comes to the US Open. As mentioned earlier, the USGA who host the event generally look to pick the hardest tests possible for the US Open. The majority of courses that you will see are links based, but not always exclusive to this style, with the likes of Pinehurst No.2 and Congressional being two examples. But courses such as Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits are some of the best links style courses in the world, let alone in the US. 

One thing that is worth noting is that the USGA often go back to tired and tested venues, but also include those that either haven’t hosted for a number of years and have been improved and occasionally new courses to the tour altogether. Below is a list of the next 10 venues for the US Open.

Upcoming Venues of the US Open

Year

Location

Course Distance (Yards)

2018

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

6996

2019

Pebble Beach

7040

2020

Winged Foot Golf Club

7258

2021

Torrey Pines (South Course)

7628

2022

Brookline

7033

2023

Los Angeles Country Club

7200

2024

Pinehurst No.2

7588

2025

Oakmont

7255

2026

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

6996

2027

Pebble Beach

7040

Prize Money

The US Open is actually the richest golf tournament in the world with a total purse of $12 million and the winner picking up a cool $2.16 million. To compare that to other majors, the Masters has a purse of $11 million with the PGA at $10 million. The Open Championships have a purse of £6.5 million, but this does fluctuate given the current state of the economy and exchange rates. 

Payouts for the Top 10 Positions in the 2017 US Open

  • Winner: $2.16 million
  • Runner Up: $1.3 million
  • 3rd: $804,023
  • 4th: $563,642
  • 5th: $469,460
  • 6th: $416,263
  • 7th: $375,278
  • 8th: $336,106
  • 9th: $304,188
  • 10th: $279,403

Statistics

As with all the majors, aside from probably the Masters as it resides at the same location each years, the courses and picked and selected to not favour one player type each year. As you can see from the table above of the courses over the next 10 years with the lengths, you get short courses such as Shinnecock and long courses such as Torrey Pines. 

The list of winners over the last decade doesn’t really show an awful in terms of correlation in terms of driving distance either. Whilst previous winners such as Koepka and Dustin Johnson are undoubtedly bombers, the likes of Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer and Webb Simpson are definitely not players you would associate with hitting the ball out of sight.

The main key ingredient we think that links all of the winners is being solid off the tee (hitting lots of fairways, not necessarily long) and having a good short game. The US Open tracks are set up to be very tough with 5 out of the last 10 events winning at scores of level or over par. Players are going to make bogeys, but making sure that they limit them to just that and not double, triple or even worse really keeps a round going. 

The Americans have dominated the event though and put claim to 83 winners in total. To put that in perspective, Scottish players are the next most successful, with 13 winners overall. But, the Europeans have made a bit of comeback in recent years, with winner such as Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer winning 4 of the last 8 US Open’s. 

There are currently 4 players who are tied with most wins (4) overall at the US Open, these are Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones (amateur), Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. They also just so happen to be some of the best players to have played the game. Tiger Woods is the most successful from the modern era, with 3 wins to his name. 

Rory McIlroy had one of the most incredible 4 days in US Open history back in 2011 when he destroyed the notoriously difficult Congressional Country Club, shooting a score of 268, which equated to 16 under par, the lowest US Open score ever. 

His 8 shot victory was mightily impressive, but it failed to bear the latest margin of victory ever recorded at a US Open of a staggering 15 shots by that of Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach. What was most staggering about the victory or manner of victory even, is that Woods’ score was 12 under par, meaning he was the only player to be under par that week. Just let that sink in. The only player under par from 150+ players and his score was 12 under! It’s widely regarded as one of the most dominating victories on a golf course of all time. 

The oldest winner of the US Open was that of Hale Irwin in 1990 at 45 years and 15 days, with the youngest being that of John McDermott, aged just 19 years and 10 months in 1911. 

The amateurs, in all honesty tend to struggle at the event and there hasn’t been an amateur winner since Johnny Goodman in 1933. The last highest ranked amateur was that of Jack Nicklaus in 1960, finishing second to none other than the great, Arnold Palmer.

In terms of scores posted, a huge range can occur at the US Open, which is what it’s one of the most exciting majors. As we’ve stated, in the last 10 years alone wining scores as high as +5 have won it, with scores as lows as McIlroy’s record of 16 under and pretty much everything in between. As a middle ground you would be looking at around 5 under, but again, it has so much to do with the course set up and weather that it’s tough to really back up these assumptions. 

US Open Winners

Year

Player

Nationality

Venue

Winning Score

Margin

2017

Brooks Koepka

US

Erin Hills

-16

4

2016

Dustin Johnson

US

Oakmont

-4

3

2015

Jordan Spieth

US

Chambers Bay

-5

1

2014

Martin Kaymer

Germany

Pinehurst No.2

-9

8

2013

Justin Rose

England

Merion

+1

2

2012

Webb Simpson

US

Olympic Club

+1

1

2011

Rory McIlroy

Northern Irish

Congressional

-16

8

2010

Graeme McDowell

Northern Irish

Pebble Beach

E

1

2009

Lucas Glover

US

Bethpage

-4

2

2008

Tiger Woods

US 

Torrey Pines

-1

Playoff 

History

The US Open has been about since 1895, making it one of the oldest golf tournaments in the world. Interestingly enough, the first tournament was actually played by just 11 players, 1 of which was an amateur. The event took place at the Newport Country Club. At the time, the golf course only had 9 holes, so in total 36 holes were played (4 rounds of 9) with all of them being played in the same day.

The first winner of the US Open was that of Horace Rawlins, who won the tournament aged just 21 years old. Much to the American’s dismay, Rawlins just so happened to be English as well! Rawlins went on to pick up a sizeable paycheque of $150 from the $335 prize pool. On top of that a gold medal worth $50 was also received by Rawlins, before his home club was formerly presented with the Open Championship Cup trophy for that year. 

Interestingly enough, the British dominated early US Opens and it wasn’t until John McDermott’s win in 1911 that the first American finally got on the board. Of course, as the sport started taking off across the pond, the dominance of the American’s really started to show, with them winning way more US Open’s than any other nation or area. Since 1950, only players from 6 other nations have won the US Open. 

The actual date of when the US Open or any of the four majors for that matter were officially crowned a major, is unknown. Many date it back to around the 1960’s when Arnold Palmer wanted to win the PGA and The Open after already winning the Masters and US Open to complete his Grand Slam. It would appear that all the four events were regarded as the biggest and best in the world, so naturally have fallen into place as the major tournaments in golf. 

Whilst dozens of golf courses across America have been lucky enough to host a US Open, there are a few courses that get frequented on the rota more than others. No course has held more tournaments that Oakmont Golf and Country Club, with 9 in total stretching from 1927 through to 2016. Baltusrol Golf club is second with 7 and Oakland Hills is third with 6. 

US Open Courses

Course

US Opens Held

When

Oakmont Country Club

9

2016, 2007, 1994, 1983, 1973, 1962, 1953, 1935, 1927

Baltusrol Golf Club

7

1993, 1980, 1967, 1954, 1936, 1915, 1903

Oakland Hills Country Club

6

1996, 1985, 1961, 1951, 1937, 1924

Merion Golf Club

5

2013 ,1981, 1971, 1950, 1934

Olympic Club

5

2012, 1998, 1987, 1966, 1955

Pebble Beach Golf Links

5

2010, 2000, 1992, 1982, 1972

Winged Foot Golf Club

5

2006, 1984, 1974, 1959, 1929

Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan is widely regarded as one of the best and most important golfers of all time. In an illustrious career both on and off the course, Hogan picked up 9 majors in total, with four of those coming from the US Open, the tied most victories of any player ever. 

Hogan was famed for a silky smooth swing and his ball striking was often thought of to be the best ever. In fact, his book ‘5 Fundamentals of Golf’ is still one of the most popular golf teaching books of all-time and his theories are as apparent today as they were over 50 years ago. 

His win back in 1948 was probably the most impressive of his 4 US Open wins. He managed to shoot 8 under par, which was the lowest aggregate score at the US Open. But, what makes it more impressive is that this record stood for over 50 years until Tiger Woods shot 12 under at Pebble Beach in one of the most amazing US Open victories ever.

Whilst Hogan never did complete the career Grand Slam (winning all four majors in a calendar year), he went very close in 1953, winning the Masters, Open Championship and US Open. 

Francis Ouiment

Francis Ouiment is a name that you might not be all that familiar with, but is a hugely important figure within both the US Open and the game of golf in general. Ouiment went on to be the first amateur winner of the US Open at the 1913 event and really managed to put golf on the map for a lot of non-professional and social players. 

His win in 1913 was made even more impressive when he managed to beat two of the best players in the world in a play-off following a tied 72 holes previously. The players in question were Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, both professional golfers at the time. Ouiment’s score of -1 would comfortably beat both Vardon’s and Ray’s scores of +5 and +6, respectively, and would go down as one of the biggest sporting upsets of all-time. 

His win brought golf to the masses in the US and also tied in with the countries dominance within the US Open. In fact, many people truly believe that had Ouiment not been able to seal the deal in the playoff on the Monday, it would have set American golf back decades, such was the importance of his win. 

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy is one of the best golfers of the modern era. With 4 majors to his name at the age of just 28, he’s likely going to go down as one of the best of all-time. He sprung onto the scene in 2011 with his first major win at the US Open in Congressional. But, it wasn’t the fact that he was able to win the event, it was more the manner of the win.

You see, McIlroy went on to shoot a record breaking 16 under par for a total score of 268. He ended up winning it by 8 shots in total, which is one of the biggest margins of victories ever seen as well. Basically, the then 22-year-old had blitzed hundreds of years’ worth of golfing records within just 4 rounds. 

But, his record at the US Open since that win has been pretty poor for his standards. He’s actually missed the cut on 3 of his following 6 events and just one top 10 finish to speak of. 

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