BETHESDA, Md. – A capsule look at the three major championships held at Congressional Country Club, site of the 111th U.S. Open to be played June 16-19:
Tournament: U.S. Open
Winner: Ernie Els
Runner-up: Colin Montgomerie
Winning score: 276
First prize: $465,000
Noteworthy: Els won the Buick Classic a week later and went to No. 1 in the world for the first time.
Quoteworthy: “It must have been one hell of a show because I felt everybody still had a chance with two holes to go.” – Ernie Els.
Recap: What will be the 18th hole for this U.S. Open was a version of the 17th in 1997, and it decided the tournament. Els and Montgomerie were tied at 4 under when Els hit a 5-iron into green to 12 feet and made his par. Montgomerie missed the green to the right, chipped to about 5 feet and then became increasingly agitated at the gallery noise coming from beyond the pond at the 18th. Finally settling over the par putt, he missed to fall one shot behind. In the final group, Tom Lehman was one shot behind until he pulled his approach on the 17th off the bank and into the water. Els made a long two-putt par on the 18th for a one-shot victory and his second U.S. Open.
Tournament: PGA Championship
Winner: Dave Stockton
Runner-up: Raymond Floyd, Don January.
Winning score: 281.
First prize: $45,000.
Noteworthy: Sunday’s final round was washed out and restarted. Stockton said he opened with three bogeys on the opening five holes. He started anew Monday and played the same stretch in 2 under.
Quoteworthy: “My recollection is I shouldn’t have won. There had to be 20 people who felt they should have won it.” – Stockton.
Recap: Stockton got a huge break when Sunday’s final round was washed out by rain, wiping out his terrible start. Charles Coody had the 54-hole lead going into the last day Monday, but blew up to a 77. Jack Nicklaus was two shots behind and poised to become the first back-to-back PGA winner in the stroke-play era. He closed with a 74. Masters champion Raymond Floyd and Don January posted at 282 in the clubhouse. Stockton was 1 over when he played the 18th hole, and made a 10-foot par putt to win his second PGA Championship.
Tournament: U.S. Open
Winner: Ken Venturi
Runner-up: Tommy Jacobs
Winning score: 278
First prize: $17,500
Noteworthy: This was the last year the final day of the U.S. Open was 36 holes.
Quoteworthy: “I don’t think I’ll make it, Ray.” – Venturi to Raymond Floyd on the 17th hole of the 36-hole final.
Recap: Venturi posted the second-best score in U.S. Open history and won by four shots, although it was the fact he finished 72 holes that made this U.S. Open so memorable. The temperature topped 100 degrees with high humidity, and Venturi shot 66 in the morning round, despite missing two putts inside 30 inches on the final two holes. Such was his dehydration that Dr. John Everett, a Congressional member, recommended that Venturi quit because “to continue might be fatal.” On he marched, escorted by a doctor providing salt tablets, and ice to place on his neck. He closed with a 70, and was said to be so delirious from the heat that he had trouble signing his card. It was sweet redemption for Venturi, who had blown the 1956 Masters as an amateur and twice finished second to Arnold Palmer at Augusta.