Great Moments of the U.S. Open

Great Moments of the U.S. Open


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The most exciting stories in the tournament's history.

Great Moments of the U.S. Open is a compilation of the most unforgettable chip shots, birdies and putts witnessed in the 111-year history of the U.S. Open, America's greatest and oldest golf tournament. Long-standing rivals, stalwart champions and comeback heroes go wood to iron on the green, leading to the most memorable, knuckle-biting displays of skill in the history of the majors.

From American Francis Ouimet's shocking victory over top British professionals in 1913, to Jack Nicklaus' edging of Arnold Palmer in 1962 for his first Open win, to Tiger Woods' breathtaking comeback on a broken leg to capture the 2008 Open -- the gutsiest, classiest and most improbable victories are recounted here.

Great Moments of the U.S.
contains 28 memorable victories. These include:

  • Billy Burke in 1931; 144 holes to defeat George Von Elm in playoff
  • Ken Venturi in 1964; holds on at Congressional after suffering heat stroke
  • Gary Player in 1965; the first international champ in 45 years
  • Tony Jacklin in 1970; wins by seven strokes and is the first European champ in 50 years
  • Tom Watson in 1982; miraculous chip-in on the 71st hole to win
  • Tiger Woods in 2000; dominating performance to win by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach
  • Rory McIlroy in 2011; sets scoring record in rout of field.

For all its hushed moments and idyllic settings, golf is about passion, prowess and thrills. These 28 stories go beyond the leader boards directly to the heart of the game. Five chapters encapsulate the tournament's colorful history through its great stories. These are the victories that heralded significant changes in the sport. They are the underdogs who had to overcome injuries and sickness to become champions. And they are the comeback heroes and the dominant champs who make it look easy.

The book is lavishly illustrated with stunning photographs of the championship artifacts held by the USGA Museum. Readers will also enjoy some of the world's best golf action and course photography.

Complete with essays focusing on U.S. Open course design, history, international players and near misses and collapses, Great Moments of the U.S. Open provides readers a unique and authoritative view on the best of America's most prestigious golf tournament.

Great Moments of the U.S. Open is broken down into five chapters: Turning Points, Perseverance, Underdogs, Comebacks and Dominance.

Turning Points focuses on golfers whose victories heralded significant changes or gains for the golf world. Golfers profiled here are:

  • Harry Vardon in 1900
  • Johnny McDermott in 1911
  • Walter Hagen in 1914
  • Bob Jones in 1930
  • Jack Nicklaus in 1962
  • Gary Player in 1965
  • Tom Watson in 1982.

Perseverance focuses on those golfers who overcame injuries, sickness and early-round setbacks to finally become champions. Golfers profiled here include:

  • Billy Burke in 1931
  • Ken Venturi in 1964
  • Tom Kite in 1992
  • Corey Pavin in 1995
  • Payne Stewart in 1999
  • Tiger Woods in 2008.

Underdogs focuses on those golfers that everyone had counted out (or didn't even consider) and still hung on for remarkable victories. Golfers profiled here are:

  • Gene Sarazen in 1922
  • Johnny Goodman in 1933
  • Jack Fleck in 1955
  • Lee Trevino in 1971
  • Hale Irwin in 1990.

Comebacks features the best come-from-behind victories in Open history, from early-round disappointment to life-threatening circumstances. Golfers profiled here include:

  • Byron Nelson in 1939
  • Ben Hogan in 1950
  • Arnold Palmer in 1960
  • Johnny Miller in 1973
  • Jack Nicklaus in 1980.

Dominance features those players who picked apart the field and made winning the country's toughest tournament look easy. Golfers profiled here are:

  • Willie Anderson in 1905
  • Tony Jacklin in 1970
  • Tiger Woods in 2000
  • Rory McIlroy in 2011.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770851887
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 05/12/2013
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,195,578
Product dimensions: 10.40(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Robert Williams is the Director of the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., the world's premier institution for the preservation and celebration of golf's rich history. He is a former professional golfer and lighting designer who has spent many years managing the design, construction and operation of museums and other non-profit organizations.

Michael Trostel is the Senior Curator and Historian of the USGA Museum. He is responsible for developing historical content and managing research activities at the Museum and serves as a writer at several championships each year.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Origins: The 1895 U.S. Open
by Rand Jerris


    The U.S. Open Becomes a Major - Harry Vardon 1900
    America's Tragic Hero - Johnny McDermott 1911
    The Ultimate Professional - Walter Hagan 1914
    The Grand Slam - Bob Jones 1930
    The Arrival of the Golden Bear - Jack Nicklaus 1962
    International Breakthrough - Gary Player 1965
    The Chip - Tom Watson 1982

Golf's Biggest Stage: U.S. Open Courses
by Mike Davis with Hunki Yun


    The Longest Open - Billy Burke 1931

    Mind Over Matter - Olin Dutra 1934
    Battered but Not Beaten - Ken Venturi 1964
    Heart of a Champion - Payne Stewart 1999
    Delivering in the Clutch - Tiger Woods 2008

America's First Golf Hero
by Rhonda Glenn


    Another American Homebred Arrives - Gene Sarazen 1922
    The Cattle-Car Champion - Johnny Goodman 1933
    "Out-Hoganed" - Jack Fleck 1955
    The "Super Mex" - Lee Trevino 1971
    Veteran Moxie - Hale Irwin 1990

The Ignominy of Being Second-Best
by David Shefter and Ron Driscoll


    Iron Byron - Byron Nelson

    A Triumph of Will - Ben Hogan 1950
    A King's Coronation - Arnold Palmer 1960
    Waking Up the Lion - Billy Casper 1966
    A Round for the Ages - Johhny Miller 1973
    Jack is Back - Jack Nicklaus 1980

The Global Game: The Rise of International Players
by Lewine Mair


    The First Four-Time Champion - Willie Anderson 1905
    A British Breakthrough - Tony Jacklin 1970
    A Tiger Stands Alone - Tiger Woods 2000
    Sheer Brilliance - Rory McIlroy 2011

Champions and Records
Photo Credits



The game of golf is a central component in the lives of many Americans. It can be a bond between parent and child; a respite from the grind of work; a way to unify a school, a city, or even a country; or a much-needed distraction in a time of crisis or grief. The game did not originate in the United States, but it has grown and thrived here in the 20th and 21st centuries, both as a leisure activity played among family, friends and co-workers and as a top-level athletic competition played by the best amateurs and professionals in the world.

On December 22, 1894, representatives from five golf clubs gathered at the Calumet Club in New York City and founded what would become the United States Golf Association (USGA). Their chief objective was to create an institution to steward the game in the United States by governing its rules and conducting national championships. For more than a century, the United States Open
Championship (U.S. Open) has identified our national champion and, in the process, forged unforgettable moments in our collective memory. This book celebrates the heroic champions, their inspirational stories and the extraordinary circumstances that created them and, in doing so, made the U.S. Open one of the world's premier sporting events.

While some stories focus on a particular shot, others embrace the significance of an entire championship. It is impossible to encapsulate more than a century of U.S. Open history in a few hundred pages, but we believe the stories shared here embody the spirit of the championship. They are centered on the accomplishments of individual champions and organized around themes related to the defining moments in the game's history, perseverance, underdogs, great comebacks and dominant performances. The book draws together heroes from different eras who share common experiences and emotions.

The stories are brought to life with stunning archival images and artifacts from the USGA's collection. These iconic images reveal how the championship has changed over time, but they also connect the present to a more distant past. There are many aspects of the U.S. Open that have changed since its inception, but the most critical ingredients remain constant. It continues to be golf's toughest test, played on the greatest courses in the country and driven by volunteers and fans who love this great game. Fittingly, it is also the most democratic major championship in the game, so anyone who has the skill, passion and determination can compete for the title of United States Open Champion.

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