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U.S. Open 101: Guide to the year's second major

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 11, 2018, 5:30 pm

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about the United States Open Championship:

How old is the tournament?

One hundred twenty-three years. The first one was played in 1895.

How many times has it been played?

This year will mark the 118th U.S. Open. It was not played in 1917 or 1918 because of World War I, nor was it played in 1942-45 because of World War II.


Who started it?

The United States Golf Association, an organization formed in 1894 by five prominent golf clubs to be the game's national governing body.


Is it the oldest national championship in the world?

No. The Open, also referred to as The Open Championship or the British Open, dates back to 1860.


Where was the first U.S. Open played?

It was played on a nine-hole course at Newport (R.I.) Country Club.


Who was the first winner?

Horace Rawlins, a 21-year-old Englishman, shot 173 for 36 holes to beat Scotsman Willie Dunn by two strokes.


Who has won the most U.S. Opens?

Four players have won the U.S. Open four times each: Scotsman Willie Anderson and Americans Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Hogan also won the 1942 Hale America Open, which some of his supporters claim should be counted as his fifth U.S. Open. The Hale America was a substitute for the U.S. Open, was held in the same time slot and was run like the U.S. Open with local and sectional qualifying.


How many times has a player won consecutive Opens?

Five players have won back-to-back Opens and one has won three in a row. Chronologically, they are Scotsman Willie Anderson (1903-05), and Americans John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Guldahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89).


Who are the most noteworthy players who have NOT won a U.S. Open?

This list would have to start with Sam Snead, whose failure to win a U.S. Open cost him a career Grand Slam. Snead was runner-up in the Open four times - in 1937, 1947, 1949 and 1953. But his most painful loss probably came in 1939, when he came to the final hole needing only a par to win but instead made a triple bogey. As on-course scoreboards did not yet exist, Snead didn't know he needed only a par; a spectator erroneously told him he needed a birdie. Phil Mickelson is also in this category; he has a record six runner-up finishes (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013).


I often hear the name Francis Ouimet in connection with the U.S. Open. Who was he and why was he important?

Ouimet was a 20-year-old former caddie who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history in 1913, beating two of the top British professionals in a playoff to win the U.S. Open on his home course, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Beyond the magnitude of the upset, Ouimet's win helped open up the game to working-class people.


What was the "Massacre at Winged Foot"?

U.S. Open courses are typically set up to be very difficult, with long rough and fast greens, but Winged Foot, site of the 1974 Open, took things to a new level. Not one player broke par in the first round, and Hale Irwin's 7-over 287 score was the second-highest U.S. Open winning total since World War II. Many believed - still believe - that the USGA made the course extra difficult in retaliation for Johnny Miller having shot a record 63 the previous year at Oakmont. The phrase "Massacre at Winged Foot" was coined by sportswriter Dick Schaap, who used it as the title of a book he wrote about the championship.


Which U.S. Opens have been the most memorable?

It's all a matter of opinion, of course, but here is our Top 20 list. Working backwards in the top 10: 10. 1973: Johnny Miller shoots a record 63 in the final round to win. 9. 1982: Tom Watson chips in from deep rough on the 71st hole to win at Pebble Beach. 8. 2008: Limping on what would turn out to be a broken leg, Tiger Woods edges Rocco Mediate after an 18-hole playoff and one sudden-death hole. 7. 1930: Bobby Jones wins the third leg of a Grand Slam he would soon complete. 6. 2000: Woods destroys the field by a record 15 shots at Pebble Beach. 5. 1950: Less than a year and a half after a near-fatal car accident, Ben Hogan wins at Merion. 4. 1966: Seven shots ahead of playing partner Billy Casper at the final turn, Arnold Palmer is caught and loses in an 18-hole playoff. 3: 1913: Francis Ouimet stuns the golf world. 2. 1962: Rookie Jack Nicklaus takes it to Palmer in front of Arnie's home crowd at Oakmont. 1. 1960: Seven shots baack after 54 holes, Palmer drives the green on the first hole, a par 4, shoots 65 and wins his first - and only - U.S. Open.


How do you get to play in a U.S. Open?

There are various categories of exemptions, including winners of the previous 10 U.S. Opens, winners of the other three majors for the past five years, and the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. In addition, local and sectional qualifying is held. Local qualifying is open to any professional and amateurs with up-to-date USGA Handicap Indexes not exceeding 1.4. In other words, you have to be pretty good just to try to qualify. The USGA also on occasion grants special exemptions to players who have not qualified but are deemed worthy of being in the field. Such exemptions have gone to accomplished veterans such as Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros and Lee Trevino.


How big is the Open field?

It is 156 players.


Where is this year's Open being played?

It is being played for the fifth time at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.


Which course has hosted the most Opens?

Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., near Pittsburgh, has hosted nine Opens, including in 2016.


Who is the oldest player to win the Open?

Hale Irwin was 45 years and 15 days old when he won in 1990.


Who was the youngest winner?

John McDermott was 19 years, 315 days old when he won in 1911.


Who was the youngest player?

In 2012 a 14-year-old amateur from China, Andy Zhang, qualified.


Who had the largest victory margin?

Tiger Woods won by 15 strokes in 2000. This is the record for any major.


Who holds the 72-hole scoring record?

Rory McIlroy shot 268 in 2011. That was 16 under par - also a record - on par-71 Congressional. Brooks Koepka won in 2016 at par-72 Erin Hills with a 16-under total (272).


Who holds the 18-hole Open scoring record?

Johnny Miller set the record by shooting 63 in 1973 at Oakmont. That score was subsequently equaled by Jack Nicklaus (1980, Baltusrol), Tom Weiskopf (1980, Baltusrol), Vijay Singh (2003, Olympia Fields) and Justin Thomas (2017, Erin Hills).


What does a player get for winning the U.S. Open?

This year's winner's purse is $2,160,000 (out of $12 million, overall purse). The winner is also exempt from qualifying for the other three majors and The Players Championship for the next five years, and exempt from U.S. Open qualifying for the next 10 years. If the winner is a PGA Tour member, he would receive a five-year exemption to all PGA Tour events.


What happens if the U.S. Open is tied after 72 holes?

There used to be an 18-hole playoff the following day. Now, if two or more players are tied at the end of regulation there is a two-hole aggregate playoff, followed by sudden death.

Jackson Van Paris at the 2018 U.S. Amateur (USGA/Chris Keane) Getty Images

Van Paris' historic week at U.S. Am ends in Rd. of 32

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 7:41 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Standing to the left of the 16th green Thursday, Jackson Van Paris clasped his hands behind his head and grimaced as Mason Overstreet ended his historic week at Pebble Beach.

It was little consolation to him afterward, of course, but earlier this week Van Paris, 14, became the second-youngest competitor to win a match at the U.S. Amateur.  

The only player younger? Bob Jones. In 1916.

Good company.

“I learned that I can hang with all these players,” said Van Paris, who lost to Overstreet, 3 and 2, in the Round of 32. “I can play with these guys. I played with two of the best players in the field and hung with them for the majority of the matches.”

After qualifying for match play, Van Paris took Australian Dylan Perry – the 30th-ranked amateur in the world – the distance and then holed a chip shot on the final green to prevail, 1 up. His second-round opponent was no slouch, either: Overstreet, a junior at Arkansas, was the 2017 NCAA individual runner-up.

Overstreet is 6-foot-1 and sturdily built, and he took advantage of his lengthy by pounding it past the tall and skinny Van Paris. On the ninth hole, Overstreet caught the downslope in the fairway and had only a wedge into the green. With his body still developing, Van Paris maxes out at 270 yards off the tee. About 60 yards behind his opponent, he hit 5-iron into a firm green that had about a 10-foot circle to get it close. Overstreet made birdie, took a 2-up lead, went 3 under for his first 12 holes in windier conditions and easily won the match.

“Mason played great, and he’s a really good player,” Van Paris said, “but I felt like it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”

Those in junior golf circles know all about Van Paris, a rising sophomore who lives about five minutes from Pinehurst No. 2 and is already one of the top prospects in the Class of 2021. A two-time AJGA winner, he’s verbally committed to play college golf at Vanderbilt, alongside his friend Gordon Sargent, the beginning of what he hopes is a dream team during his four years in school.

The Commodores’ affable coach, Scott Limbaugh, the facilities and the team’s recent success were key factors in his early decision, but so were the academics. “I’d rather get a 99 on a test than top 10 in a tournament,” he said.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Tuesday was the first day of school at O’Neal High School, a college prep school in Southern Pines. Before his match, the students and teachers sent him a photo of them holding up a “Let’s Go, Jackson! Go Low!” sign in front of the school. Once Van Paris knocked out his first-round opponent, he was flooded with texts, emails and Snapchats. One note in particular stood out: The head of the school joked that Van Paris’ absences the rest of the week were unexcused.

Asked what he’ll tell his classmates when he returns to school, Van Paris said: “That I went to the coolest place in the U.S, played the coolest golf course in the country, played the biggest amateur tournament in the world and got 17th.”

His experience at the U.S. Amateur – where he competed against players who were at least four years older – was nothing new for Van Paris. He’s been playing up since he was 6.

“He’s always wanted to play against the best players he could find,” said Van Paris’ father, Todd. “But now that he’s old enough to play against his peers, it’s been a different dynamic – he’s not the underdog, he’s the favorite. It’s going to be an interesting transition.”

Todd Van Paris said that his son has grown about six inches and added about 40 yards over the past year. He’ll only pack on more muscle over the next few years, shortening the distance gap between him and players like Overstreet.

Van Paris’ goal Wednesday was to win both of his matches and reach the quarterfinals. Then he’d be fully exempt into next year’s U.S. Amateur … at Pinehurst No. 2, just down the street from his parents’ house.

“I know that he’s proud of what he’s accomplished this week,” Todd Van Paris said, “but I guarantee you that he thought he could win the tournament. He really thought he could do it. That’s what makes him special.”

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After opening up, Lexi shoots 'comfortable' 68

By Randall MellAugust 16, 2018, 6:27 pm

Lexi Thompson looked at ease, smiling and laughing in a solid start in her return to the tour Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, where she felt the benefit of her month-long break.

“It was very relaxing out there,” Thompson said. “I felt very comfortable where my game was at. I just tried to go out and let my game show and not put too much pressure on myself.”

Thompson, 23, the defending champ, opened with a 4-under-par 68, four shots behind Angel Yin, the early leader. Thompson skipped the Ricoh Women’s British Open two weeks ago to take a “mental break” and address emotional struggles that built up through last year’s highs and lows.

In a news conference Wednesday, Thompson was candid sharing the challenges she has faced as a prodigy who has poured so much of herself into the game, and how she has recently sought the help of therapists in building a life that isn’t all about golf.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


“I’m not just a robot out here,” Thompson said in heartfelt fashion in her news conference. “I need to have a life.”

Thompson said she took almost two weeks off without touching a club after her last start at the Marathon Classic.

After Thursday’s round, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz asked her about her decision to share her struggle.

“It was very hard for me to take the break, because I didn’t want to show that weakness, but at the same time it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge you need that kind of break, and to take time for yourself,” Thompson said. “Especially when you are in the spotlight like this, it can get hard, to just live your life for you, and figure out what makes you happy.”

Thompson is the highest ranked American in the world at No. 5 in the Rolex rankings. She was the Golf Writers Association of America female Player of the Year last season and also claimed the LPGA’s Vare Trophy for low scoring average, but it was still the toughest year of her career. She watched her mother battle cancer and dealt with the death of a grandmother. She also endured tough competitive blows, losing the ANA Inspiration after being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round. At year’s end, she lost out on a chance to ascend to world No. 1 and win the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year award after missing a short putt on the final hole in the season finale.

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Snedeker joins 59 club at Wyndham

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:19 pm

Brandt Snedeker opened the Wyndham Championship with an 11-under 59, becoming just the ninth player in PGA Tour history to card a sub-60 score in a tournament round.

Snedeker offered an excited fist pump after rolling in a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth hole at Sedgefield Country Club, his 18th hole of the day. It was Snedeker's 10th birdie on the round to go along with a hole-out eagle from 176 yards on No. 6 and gave him the first 59 on Tour since Adam Hadwin at last year's CareerBuilder Challenge.

Snedeker's round eclipsed the tournament and course record of 60 at Sedgefield, most recently shot by Si Woo Kim en route to victory two years ago. Amazingly, the round could have been even better: he opened with a bogey on No. 10 and missed a 6-footer for birdie on his 17th hole of the day.


Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Snedeker was still 1 over on the round before reeling off four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16, but he truly caught fire on the front nine where he shot an 8-under 27 that included five birdie putts from inside 6 feet.

Jim Furyk, who also shot 59, holds the 18-hole scoring record on Tour with a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.

Snedeker told reporters this week that he was suffering from "kind of paralysis by analysis" at last week's PGA Championship, but he began to simplify things over the weekend when he shot 69-69 at Bellerive to tie for 42nd. Those changes paid off even moreso Thursday in Greensboro, where Snedeker earned his first career Tour win back in 2007 at nearby Forest Oaks.

"Felt like I kind of found something there for a few days and was able to put the ball where I wanted to and make some putts," Snedeker said. "And all of a sudden everything starts feeling a little bit better. So excited about that this week because the greens are so good."

Snedeker was hampered by injury at the end of 2017 and got off to a slow start this season. But his form has started to pick up over the summer, as he has recorded three top-10 finishes over his last seven starts highlighted by a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier. He entered the week 80th in the season-long points race and is in search of his first win since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

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Woods' caddie paid heckler $25 to go away

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:05 pm

Tiger Woods is known for his ability to tune out hecklers while in the midst of a competitive round, but every now and then a fan is able to get under his skin - or, at least, his caddie's.

Joe LaCava has been on the bag for Woods since 2011, and on a recent appearance on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" he shared a story of personally dispatching of an especially persistent heckler after dipping into his wallet earlier this month at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

According to LaCava, the fan was vocal throughout Woods' final round at Firestone Country Club, where he eventually tied for 31st. On the 14th hole, LaCava asked him to go watch another group, and the man agreed - under the condition that LaCava pony up with some cash.

"So he calls me a couple of names, and I go back and forth with the guy. And I said, 'Why don't you just leave?'" LaCava said. "And he goes, 'Well, if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today, I'll leave.' And I said, 'Here you go, here's $25.'"

But the apparent resolution was brief, as the heckler pocketed the cash but remained near the rope line. At that point, the exchange between LaCava and the fan became a bit more heated.

"I said, 'Look, pal, $25 is $25. You've got to head the other way,'" LaCava said. "So he starts to head the other way, goes 20 yards down the line, and he calls me a certain other swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way. We’re going face-to-face with this guy and all of a sudden Tiger is looking for a yardage and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line.”

Eventually an on-course police officer intervened, and the cash-grabbing fan was ultimately ejected. According to LaCava, Woods remained unaffected by the situation that played out a few yards away from him.

"He didn't have a problem," LaCava said. "And actually, I got a standing ovation for kicking the guy out of there."