On Thursday, 156 players will tee it up on Pinehurst No.2, all vying for the right to have their name etched in the blank space under “Justin Rose” on the US Open trophy.
We all know the US Open is the toughest tournament on the golf calendar – but just exactly how tough?
We’ve found ten things you may or may not know about the US Open.
I’M A SURVIVOR
The highest winning score at a US Open (in the modern era)? That belongs to Julius Boros, who won his second US Open title in an 18-hole playoff with Jacky Cupit and Arnold Palmer at The Country Club for the 1963 title. High winds made scoring extremely difficult throughout the week, as the trio each signed off for 293 (+9). It was the first time in US Open history that no amateur made the cut. The 77.4 final-round scoring average set a record for the post-war era, until Pebble Beach bared its teeth at Jack Nicklaus and co. in 1972.
BEATING OLD MAN PAR
Only five players have played all four rounds of a US Open under par: Lee Trevino (1968), Tony Jacklin (1970), Lee Janzen (1993), Curtis Strange (1994) and Rory McIlroy (2011).
FINAL DAY HEROICS
The biggest ever comeback at a US Open belongs to Arnold Palmer, who began the 1960 tournament at Cherry Hills seven shots behind leader Mike Souchak. ‘The King’ shot a 65 that propelled him to -4, while Souchak’s final round 75 saw him drop to joint third. Jack Nicklaus, then a promising 20-year-old amateur, finished two behind Palmer in runner-up. The young Nicklaus was paired with Ben Hogan, then 47, in the final two rounds. Hogan said afterwards: “I played 36 holes today with a kid who should have won this thing by 10 strokes.”
WHAT A SLOG
The par-5 16th at Olympic Club in 2012 was officially the longest hole in US Open history, measuring a whopping 670 yards.
THAT’S A CARD KILLER
The worst score recorded on a single hole at the US Open is 19, by a hapless Ray Ainsley in the second round at Cherry Hills in 1938. The American hit his approach on the par-4 16th into a stream fronting the green. Rather than take a penalty drop, he continued to attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to chip the ball out. He managed eventually – but not before he’d racked up 15 shots over par. He didn’t make the cut.
GOLF’S TOUGHEST DEFENCE
Is there a tougher title to defend in all of golf? With a new venue every year and typically frightening course conditions, Curtis Strange remains the last player to win successive US Opens in 1988 and 1989. Before the former Ryder Cup captain achieved the feat, Ben Hogan (1950, 1951) had been the only other man to go back-to-back since the 1930s.
DEALING IN ACES
There have been 43 holes in one recorded at the US Open since 1907, most recently by PGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani last year on the 17th at Merion. Tom Weiskopf is the owner of two US Open aces (1978 and 1982). During practice for the tournament at Olympic Club in 2012, the long-bombing Alvaro Quiros holed a rare albatross on the 288-yard par-4 7th.
[youtube width=”600″ height=”315″ video_id=”lrhFo7UPIJ0″]
Watch Shawn Stefani’s unbelievable ace at Merion last year. Do you think he was happy about it?
A TON TO FORGET
J.D. Tucker carded a 157 during the opening round of the 1898 US Open at Myopia Hunt Club. He improved on it later in the day by some 57 shots in his second round, before quietly withdrawing. Tucker’s first-round remains the highest single-round score for any player, and unless John Daly fronts up with a few dozen balls, you wouldn’t think it will be broken anytime soon.
The revered amateur Bobby Jones led by three going into the final round of the 1929 US Open at Winged Foot, but a pair of sevens meant he needed to sink a 12-footer on the last to force a play-off with Al Espinosa. He did. But that was about as exciting as the tournament would get. Jones completed the 36-hole play-off the following day with rounds of 72 and 69, while Espinosa endured a nightmare 84 and 80 to lose by a colossal 23 strokes.
Andy Dillard may have been journeyman professional, but he etched his name into the history books at the 1992 US Open by making the best start of anyone in any major – ever. The American birdied each of the first six holes at Pebble Beach to stand at -6 after six. After missing from 15th feet at the 7th, his run soon halted. Dillard finished with rounds of 68-70-79-77 for a share of 17th, his only top-30 finish at a major.