CHAMPIONSHIPS
USGA Open Championships By the Numbers December 25, 2014 By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Matthew Fitzpatrick joined Bob Jones as a player to hold low-amateur honors at both the U.S. Open and British Open. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

The 2014 USGA Open championships included the unprecedented back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in June at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., and the 35th U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National, in Edmond, Okla. Here are some of the notable occurrences and accomplishments from the three USGA Open championships of 2014:

U.S. Open

2014 champion Martin Kaymer won by eight strokes at Pinehurst and became the eighth player to go wire-to-wire to win the U.S. Open. The others are: Walter Hagen (1914), James Barnes (1921), Ben Hogan (1953), Tony Jacklin (1970), Tiger Woods (2000, 2002) and Rory McIlroy (2011).

There were a record 10,127 entries accepted for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, topping the total of 9,860 entries for the 2013 championship at Merion Golf Club.

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, the 2013 U.S. Amateur champion, was the only one of the 11 amateurs in the field to make the 36-hole cut and finished in a tie for 48th. Fitzpatrick was also the low amateur in the 2013 British Open, making him the first player to hold those two honors concurrently since Bob Jones in 1930, the year Jones won the Grand Slam.

Two-time champion Ernie Els played in his 22nd consecutive U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the longest active streak, while six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson played in his 21st straight Open. The record is 44 consecutive championships, by four-time winner Jack Nicklaus. Three-time champion Hale Irwin is next with 34.

En route to a tie for fourth place, Keegan Bradley was one of only three players in the field to break par in three of the four rounds, joining Martin Kaymer and Brendon Todd. It was Bradley’s best finish by far in the U.S. Open, after a tie for 68th in 2012 and a missed cut last year.

Zach Johnson used a 7-iron to make a hole-in-one on the 172-yard ninth hole in the final round for the only ace of the championship. It was the 2007 Masters champion’s first hole-in-one in competition and his third overall. It was the 44th ace in U.S. Open history.

U.S. Women’s Open

Michelle Wie was the sixth player from the United States to win the Women’s Open since 2000. In that period, five players from the Republic of Korea have hoisted the trophy six times. The lists: USA: Juli Inkster (2002), Hilary Lunke (2003), Meg Mallon (2004), Cristie Kerr (2007), Paula Creamer (2010), Michelle Wie (2014). Korea: Birdie Kim (2005), Inbee Park (2008, 2013), Eun-Hee Ji (2009), So-Yeon Ryu (2011), Na Yeon Choi (2012)

Before winning the 2014 championship, Michelle Wie twice held or shared the 54-hole lead in the Women’s Open. In 2005, as an amateur, she shot a final-round 82 and tied for 23rd. In 2006, she shot a final-round 73 and tied for third, two strokes out of a playoff won by Annika Sorenstam.

Two-time champion Juli Inkster, who turned 54 two days after the championship, played in her record 35th and final Women’s Open. She shot 66, which tied for the low round of the championship, on Saturday and finished in a tie for 15th place.

Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland finished third in the Women’s Open in her first professional start. Meadow almost didn’t get into the field. She was the first alternate from her sectional qualifier and found out she made it in as she was preparing for the Curtis Cup Match in early June.

For Sunday’s final round, Pinehurst No. 2 played to its shortest length of the week at 6,153 yards, and yielded 16 under-par rounds, three fewer than the previous three rounds combined.

Back-to-Back U.S. Opens:

A look at some of the comparative statistics from the unprecedented back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open:

U.S. Open   U.S. Women’s Open
7,390 Average Yardage 6,253
73.08 Stroke Average 74.61
Par-3 6th Toughest Hole Par-4 8th
Par-5 5th Easiest Hole Par-5 5th
22 Eagles Made 25
959 Birdies Made 931
1,833 Bogeys Made 2,220
251 Double Bogeys or Worse 391

U.S. Senior Open

Colin Montgomerie, 51, defeated Gene Sauers in a playoff to win his first USGA championship after finishing as the runner-up in three U.S. Opens (1994, 1997, 2006). It was Montgomerie’s second senior major after his victory two months earlier in the Senior PGA Championship.

Doctors gave Senior Open runner-up Gene Sauers a 25 percent chance of survival after he developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a skin disorder, in 2011. Sauers had quit the PGA Tour and the game out of frustration six years earlier, but after a month in the hospital, he decided that, if he got well enough, he would return to the game.

2013 U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry finished in a tie for 14th place in 2014. No defending Senior Open champion has finished in the top 10 since Hale Irwin, who finished third in 1998.

Dave Eichelberger, the 1999 Senior Open champion, missed the 36-hole cut by four strokes at age 70. Eichelberger was playing in his 21st consecutive Senior Open, five short of Dale Douglass’ record 26, which ended in 2011.

Doug Williams, 56, one of 59 players making their U.S. Senior Open, had arguably the most interesting back story. Williams has lived in eight countries, once caddied for Jack Nicklaus in an exhibition in France and developed a golf course in Hong Kong with Gary Player. Also, in 2001, he defeated 11-year-old Michelle Wie in the first round of the Hawaii amateur match-play championship.

Three of the four semifinalists from the 1984 U.S. Amateur (also played at Oak Tree) were in the 2014 U.S. Senior Open field. Their finishes: Jerry Haas (tie for 33rd), Sam Randolph (tie for 52nd) and Scott Verplank (missed cut).

Saturday’s third round at Oak Tree National tied for the fewest sub-par rounds (three) by the field for a third round, which also occurred in 1998 at Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.