Most Memorable U.S. Open Victories over Last 50 Years
The U.S. Open, our country's most prestigious golf tournament, is rich in tradition and played on some of the toughest courses with some of the most formidable competition.
It has certainly seen it's share of thrilling and come-from-behind victories over the hundred year long history. From Johnny Miller's record 63 in '73 to Mickelson's downfall in '06, the Open is truely every golfer's nirvana.
This year's 109th Open will be held this week at Bethpage Black on Long Island.
So here's my list of the most memorable Open moments, starting with number 10, over the last 50 years.
Trevino playoff victory over Nicklaus
In 1971, Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus in a 18-hole playoff to win his second Open of his career at Merion, near Philadelphia.. Amazingly, in a 20-day stretch, Trevino won the Open, the British and Canadian Open in the same year.
Venturi conquers heat exhaustion to win Open
Through 1964, the Open played the final two rounds on Saturday. It was a grueling test for any golfer, especially on a scorching hot day in Washington D.C. Going against the clubhouse doctor's advice, Ken Venturi shoots a final round 70 to win the Open.
Irwin becomes oldest player to win
Hale Irwin won his second Open championship at age 45 at Medinah near Chicago in 1980. He shot a 67 on Sunday to force a playoff with Mike Donald by making a 45-foot putt on the 18th. He ran around giving high-fives to the gallery afterward.
Irwin went on to win on the 19th playoff hole to become the Open's oldest player to win.
Stewart's emotional second Open win
With Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson breathing down his neck, Payne Stewart makes a 15-footer for par on the final hole to win his second Open championship by one stroke.
He jumped into his caddy's arms and emotionally embarrassed Mickelson, who was playing in his group. Mickelson's wife, Amy, was pregnant with the couple's first child that year.
Tragically, Stewart died in a plane crash four months later.
Nicklaus first major victory
Jack Nicklaus, who was 22-years-old at the time, beat Arnold Palmer in a 18-hole playoff by three strokes at Oakmont. He had to overcome the huge followers of Arnie's Army en route ot his first PGA Tour victory.
The victory was the first of his 18 major tournament titles.
Mickelson's downfall at Winged Foot in New York
Phil Mickelson was poised to win his first US Open when he reached the 18th with a one stroke lead. However, Mickelson unraveled and made a double-bogey and practically handed the title to Geoff Ogilvy (pictured), who was watching the tournament on TV in the clubhouse.
The New York fans were devastated as was Mickelson, who said afterward, "I'm such an idiot."
Miller's record 63 in final round to win Open title
Johnny Miller came into the final round of the Open at Oakmont tied for 12th place. But he birdied the first four holes and never looked back. His 63 still is tied for an Open record, where it gave him the Open title and he made all 18 greens in regulation with 29 putts.
Palmer shoots final round 65 for the title
In 1960, Arnold Palmer catapulted golf into the national spotlight by winning the Open at Cherry Hills, a public course, in Denver. He drove a 340-yard par 4, shot a 60 on the front and beat Ben Hogan and an amateur named Jack Nicklaus by two strokes.
Tiger's unbelievable effort at Torrey Pines
Tiger Woods' win last year at Torrey Pines in San Diego was truly a sight to remember. Showing agony after every shot but fueled by determination, Tiger defeated Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole playoff. He made a birdie on the last hole in regulation to force a playoff and then battled to win his third Open title.
A couple days later, he would announce that he would have season-ending surgery.