Top 5 U.S. Open upsets

By Doug FergusonJune 13, 2012, 2:37 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – One of the most famous upsets in golf took place at The Olympic Club. But that wasn't the only one at the U.S. Open.

And it might not have been the biggest.

The U.S. Open often lives up to its name – open – meaning that everyone should have the chance to win golf's second-oldest championship. Every now and then, an 'anybody' does just that. It could be a 20-year-old amateur who puts golf on the front pages, an unheralded club pro from Iowa who takes down one of the giants in the game, or even a 35-year-old from the Army who defies the odds.

Here are five of the biggest upsets in golf:


5. STEVE JONES

Steve Jones won four times in a span of 16 months before a dirt bike accident caused joint and ligament damage to his left ring finger, critical for the golf grip, and derailed his career. He missed most of three seasons, but returned in a big way.

First, he won a playoff in sectional qualifying just to get into the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. He opened with a 74, seven shots behind the leaders, and then rallied with a 66 to get back into the hunt. He never went away.

Tom Lehman had a tournament-best 65 in the third round to take the outright lead, and Jones joined him in the last group. For much of the final round, the attention was on Lehman trying to win his first major, and then Davis Love III making a move. Love took bogey on the 17th and had a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that he left 3 feet short. He missed that to make another bogey for a 69.

Lehman, tied for the lead on the 18th, saw his tee shot take a funny hop into the bunker, leaving him no chance to reach the green. Jones two-putted for par, and Lehman missed a 15-foot par putt that would have forced a playoff. Jones became the first U.S. Open champion who had to qualify since Jerry Pate in 1976.


4. SAM PARKS JR.

Sam Parks Jr. was a club pro at nearby South Hills Country Club who had never won a PGA Tour event. He prepared for the 1935 U.S. Open by stopping by Oakmont every day for a month to play a practice round. The preparation paid off.

Oakmont was as severe as ever, and Jimmy Johnson opened with rounds of 73-73 to take the lead. Parks holed a 60-foot chip for eagle in the third round and shot 73 to tie for the lead, with 42-year-old Walter Hagen only three shots back and poised to win his third U.S. Open.

The weather worsened for the last 18 holes, which made scoring so difficult that none of the top 20 players on the leaderboard broke 75. Parks closed with a 76, good enough for a two-shot win over Thomson. Parks was the only player to break 300 at Oakmont.

Hagen also shot a 76, and this turned out to be his last time in serious contention at a major.

Parks never finished in the top 10 at another major.


3. ORVILLE MOODY

Orville Moody was known as 'Sarge' because of his Army career. He won the Korean Open three times while in the Army, but there was little to suggest he would become a U.S. Open champion. His best chance at winning came early in 1969 when he lost in a playoff at the Greater Greensboro Open.

He had to go through local and sectional qualifying that year just to get into the U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in Texas.

Moody was never really in the picture until the last day, when he trailed Miller Barber by three shots. Barber fell apart in the final round, closing with a 78. Sarge was steady and shot 72 to hold off Deane Beman (future PGA Tour commissioner) and a pair of PGA champions in Bob Rosburg and Al Geiberger.

It was the only PGA Tour event that Moody won. He later won 11 times on the Champions Tour.


2. JACK FLECK

Ben Hogan appeared to have won his record-setting fifth U.S. Open when he closed with a 70 at The Olympic Club in 1955. NBC went off the air and proclaimed him the winner. Still on the golf course was Jack Fleck, a little-known club pro from Iowa who could hit it straight and had figured out his putting. It was a dangerous combination.

Fleck birdied the 15th, made par on the next two holes, and then hit 7-iron from a good lie in the rough over the bunker to 8 feet on the 18th. He made the birdie for a 67 that allowed him to catch Hogan and force an 18-hole playoff.

Fleck never flinched playing against his idol – he even used Hogan irons – and knowing the crowd wanted to see Hogan win another U.S. Open. Fleck built a three-shot lead around the turn, but his lead was down to one coming to the 18th. Hogan needed a birdie to extend the playoff, but he hooked his drive into the rough, slashed at it twice to get it back in play and had to make a long putt for double bogey. Fleck won by three for his first victory.

He won only twice more on the PGA Tour the rest of his career. But while this was an upset of Olympic proportions, it was no fluke. There were only seven rounds in the 60s that week. Fleck had three of them.


1. FRANCIS OUIMET

Even though John McDermott had become the first American-born winner of the U.S. Open the previous two years, it took Francis Ouimet to put golf on newspaper front pages by beating two giants of the game.

The 1913 U.S. Open had been moved from June to September so that Harry Vardon (pictured above left) and Ted Ray (right) could compete. Also in the field was Ouimet (center), the 20-year-old Massachusetts Amateur champion who had local knowledge of The Country Club because he lived across the street from the 17th hole.

It was his first major championship.

Ouimet, six shots behind after the first round, followed with rounds of 74-74 to share the 54-hole lead with Vardon and Ray, and he kept pace over the final round to match with 79s and force an 18-hole playoff.

In the tough, rainy conditions at Brookline, Ouimet played his best golf. He shot 72, while Vardon had a 78 and Ray shot 79. The gallery was among the biggest ever in America for a golf tournament, and it was hailed as one of the biggest upsets in sport. Before long, America began to replace the Old World in golf supremacy.

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.



• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).