US Open Golf 2011: Congressional and the 10 Toughest Open Courses Ever
The US Open had our hopes up that Congressional would reclaim the US Open territory, to challenge the field and win. Unfortunately, what we saw was a far cry from a difficult course.
The USGA may have had some issues, since the rains were not torrential or absent. Rather they were "softening" rains. They made the course soft enough for the players to go after the pin, and it showed with 21 players under par. While I still think the course did get set up somewhat difficult, it wasn't US Open difficult.
However, there were plenty of US Open courses that were so difficult it gave the pros hell.
I tried to stay away from one time customers, but there was one that I just couldn't resist. So what I looked at was a somewhat consistent challenge to the players.
No. 10: Olympia Fields
In 1928, it provided enough of a challenge to make the winner sit at 10-over par. After that?
Some man named Bobby Jones would win the next two, culminating three of his four titles. However, Jones did not win this one, and he did not enjoy shooting 10-over.
No. 9: Pebble Beach
I know I will catch flak for this one. But let's review for just a second: Nicklaus went two-over in '72 and McDowell won at even last year. Kite only had three-under, which isn't too low for a US Open. And in 2000 most of the field shot over par.
One golfer does not mean the course was easy. Ask anyone else. I don't think they will say it was easy.
P.S. We're gonna act like 1982 didn't happen, because that's one low score in four times (the other one doesn't even count).
No. 8: Medinah
The US Open went two for three at this course. A two-over and three-over championship provided plenty to deal with.
However, the course did look its weakest the last time it was played. Before that, it was a good test, and had yet to be a victim of the players.
No. 7: The Country Club
Another one that went two for three, but had a little higher scores. If you've ever watch The Greatest Game Ever Played with Shia Labeouf, this is the course that Francis Ouiment won on.
He shot eight over par to win, in a playoff with 72. The movie portrays it as being a fight to the end. In reality it was a five stroke triumph to win. The year before John McDermott had shot one under at Country Club of Buffalo (I live near there!) to win the tournament.
And in 1963, the US Open was won at nine over par. With Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, nine over par.
No. 6: Brae Burn
The only single time host on the list, Brae Burn is an interesting case. You kinda want to see it be more than once, but at a 17-over par winner in 1919 places this course up on the list.
And it's not like the field didn't have anyone. The winner? Walter Hagen. Yes, Brae Burn was able to even keep Hagen from staying under double over par.
This US Open also featured a playoff for the win, with Hagen scratching out a 77 to Mike Brady's 78. Brady should have won, but a five stroke reverse (Brady's final round 80 to Hagen's 75) caused the playoff.
No. 5: Olympic Club
In this course's career, it has a three-over par record against the field.
No. 4: Oakland Hills
So only once did this course truly lose to the field and that was 1937 when seven-under took the win.
However, other than that, it has been a story of nine over, seven over, and a few over or under for three more.
It's just that big loss in '37 that keeps this from being ranked higher on the list.
No. 3: Merion
So after saying the course only lost once for Oakland Hills, the same is true for Merion. However, maybe it's due to less times having hosted, but that is the only time Merion had an under par US Open.
The other three have been E, +7, and +13.
Yes, that was a professional event that 13 over par won.
No. 2: Winged Foot
US Opens are the site of meltdown. And we all can remember the meltdown it laid host to in 2006. Geoff Ogilvy posted five over par, only to have his arms wide open when the trophy fell from Phil Mickelson's hands to his.
Then there was "the massacre." Overall, Winged Foot could be number one on this list, the champions combining at 16-over par, but it just hasn't been known to be the standard as the toughest test in golf in comparison to the next course.
So close, but just short.
No. 1: Oakmont
It is a standard that no course has matched at majors. In some's book, it's the toughest course in America. In mine, it's fourth, probably tied third.
In the past 10 years, only two US Opens have been over par, and this hosted one of the two. And in that case, Tiger Woods was present. He was to come just short, with Angel Cabrera coming in for the win.
When Johnny Miller decided to tear up the course the last two days, he set a mark that must have made the grounds crew mad. However, the next two would score around the same five under mark.
Finally, the course bit back, and won.
In eight US Opens hosted, the winners have compiled a total score of nine-over par. Keep in mind, three straight of those were at four or five-under.
By far, the USGA has not regretted Oakmont being used ever.