PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The USGA doesn’t host a Reunion of Champions every year, but after the dinner Tuesday evening at Pebble Beach, Rory McIlroy wished it would.
Thirty-three of the living 36 U.S. Open champions gathered for the special celebration, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Gary Player.
“I’ve heard from several of them this morning,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis, “that they just had a magical dinner last night.”
Rory McIlroy, the 2011 winner, shared some of the details from the evening, including how he and his wife, Erica, were seated at the “young table” with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka (and his girlfriend, Jena Sims) and Jordan Spieth (and his wife, Annie).
“It was really cool, just the stories that we were telling,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “We must have stayed about an hour and a half after everyone else had left. We shut the place down, just chatting. It was really, really cool.”
Some of the artifacts from the USGA Museum were brought in, including the 1-iron Ben Hogan had in the bag at Merion, the golf ball that Bobby Jones used to win the Grand Slam, and the visor Arnold Palmer flung in the air after winning at Cherry Hills.
“I’m a golf geek,” McIlroy said, “and that is so cool.
“I walked away from that dinner wishing that they did it every year. ... I’m looking forward to being able to do it for years to come.”