Brooks Koepka is striving for his third consecutive U.S. Open title, having won the last two editions at Erin Hills and Shinnecock Hills.
He is the sixth player to successfully defend his U.S. Open title. But has anyone ever done it three times in a row?
One man: Willie Anderson.
The Scotsman captured the U.S. Open in 1903, ’04 and ’05. None had done it before (with the U.S. Open beginning in 1895) and none have done it since.
Anderson first won the U.S. Open in 1901 at Myopia Hunt Club (Massachusetts) and then again in ’03 at Baltusrol Golf Club (New Jersey)
Anderson led after each of the first three rounds on Baltusrol’s original Old Course but was tied with fellow Scotsman Dave Brown after 72 holes. Anderson then defeated Brown, 82-84, in an 18-hole playoff.
Anderson defended his title in 1904 at Glen View Club (Illinois), shooting 72 in the final round to turn a one-shot deficit into a five-shot victory.
The U.S. Open returned to Myopia in 1905 and Anderson prevailed again. He was six back after an opening 81, but clawed to within one stroke through three rounds. He shot 77 in the final round, which was good enough for a two-stroke triumph.
The run came to an end in 1906, when Scotland’s Alex Smith won by seven shots at Onwentsia Club (Illinois). Anderson co-led after the first round, but steadily slipped over the next three, ultimately into a fifth-place showing.
Here’s how the remaining back-to-back U.S. Open champions fared in their three-peat bids:
- John McDermott (1911-12): Eighth in 1913
- Bobby Jones (1929-30): Retired after 1930 season
- Ralph Guldahl (1937-38): T-7 in 1939
- Ben Hogan (1950-51): Third in 1952
- Curtis Strange (1988-89): T-21 in 1990