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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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.