PEBBLE BEACH, California – A capsule look at the four previous U.S. Opens held at Pebble Beach Golf Links:
Winner: Tiger Woods
Margin: 15 shots
Runners-up: Ernie Els, Miguel Angel Jimenez
Summary: In the most dominant victory in the 150 years of championship golf, Tiger Woods opened with a 6-under 65 and never let up until he obliterated the field to win by 15 shots, breaking the record for widest margin in a major previously held by Old Tom Morris (13 shots) at the 1862 British Open. He not only led from start to finish for his first U.S. Open title, Woods had the low score in three of the four rounds. He set a U.S. Open record with a 10-shot lead through 54 holes, closed with a 67 and tied the U.S. Open record at 272. He became the first player to finish a U.S. Open in double digits under par (12 under) and played the final 26 holes without a bogey. Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez tied for second at 3-over 287. Woods finished 41 shots ahead of Robert Damron in last place.
Winner: Tom Kite
Margin: 2 shots
Runner-up: Jeff Sluman
Summary: Tom Kite closed with an even-par 72 and won his first and only major with two unlikely birdies in a brutal final round. Pebble Beach showed its two faces during a wild week. The gentle side allowed Gil Morgan to reach 12 under through the seventh hole of the third round, the lowest anyone had ever been in a U.S. Open. Then it turned nasty. Morgan played his next seven holes in 9 over, and only two birdies over the final three holes gave him a one-shot lead over Kite going into the final round. Vicious wind and firm turf turned Sunday into survival. Colin Montgomerie closed with a 70 and was the clubhouse leader, with Jack Nicklaus in the broadcast booth saying it would be good enough to win. Kite, however, chipped in for birdie on the par-3 seventh and made a 30-foot birdie on the par-3 12th. He led by as many as four shots, made par on the last hole and won by two over Jeff Sluman.
Winner: Tom Watson
Margin: 2 shots
Runner-up: Jack Nicklaus
Summary: Watson and British Open champion Bill Rogers were tied for the 54-hole lead, with a dozen players separated by four shots at the top of the leaderboard. One of them was Jack Nicklaus, seeking a record fifth U.S. Open title. He ran off five straight birdies starting at No. 3 and joined a four-way tie for the lead. Watson made a 35-foot birdie on the 14th to take the lead, but they were tied when Watson bogeyed the 16th and Nicklaus, playing ahead of him failed to birdie the 18th. On the par-3 17th, Watson hit a 2-iron into the thick rough just over the green. He hit the perfect pitch to a hole running away from him and ran to the side as the ball dropped for birdie in one of the most dramatic U.S. Open shots at Pebble Beach. Needing only a par to win, Watson hit 9-iron to 20 feet on the final hole for a birdie and a two-shot victory and his only U.S. Open title.
Winner: Jack Nicklaus
Margin: 3 shots
Runner-up: Bruce Crampton
Summary: Nicklaus, the Masters champion, had a one-shot lead over defending U.S. Open champion Lee Trevino, Kermit Zarley and Bruce Crampton, with Arnold Palmer two shots behind going into the final round. With clouds in the forecast, the USGA decided not to water the greens, but strong westerly winds dried out the course and took a toll on the leaders. Nicklaus was in control until a gust nearly knocked him off his feet during his swing on No. 10, and his drive wound up on the beach. He took double bogey. Palmer was poised to take the lead when he faced an 8-foot birdie on the 14th and Nicklaus had an 8-foot bogey putt on the 12th. Palmer missed, Nicklaus made his putt to retain the lead. Nicklaus was three shots ahead on the par-3 17th when he hit a 1-rion into the wind. The ball landed a foot in front of the hole, hit the pin and stopped 6 inches away for birdie. He closed with a 74 for a three-shot victory.