USGA INSIDER HISTORY
The Inward Nine: Great Open Moments at Oakmont June 14, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By Victoria Student, USGA

Angel Cabrera unleashed a powerful drive that catapulted him to the 2007 U.S. Open victory at Oakmont Country Club. (USGA/Jason Bridge)

As the countdown to the U.S. Open continues, it is a perfect time to look back at the many memorable moments that have taken place during the eight Opens played at Oakmont Country Club. You have gone through the outward nine, so let’s head back to the clubhouse with the second installment of this series, a look at some of the historic events from the inward nine that shaped the history of Oakmont and the U.S. Open:

The Inward Nine

No. 10: The hole proved too much for a frustrated Cary Middlecoff in the third round of the 1953 U.S. Open. After hitting his tee shot and third shot into bunkers, Middlecoff picked up his ball, dropped it, and proceeded to hit it towards the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He promptly withdrew from the championship. 

 

 

No. 11: After an 18-hole playoff between Ernie Els, Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie resulted in another deadlock after 3-over 74s by Els and Roberts, a sudden-death playoff was necessary to determine the 1994 U.S. Open champion. On No. 11, Roberts pushed his tee shot into the rough, advanced it to the greenside bunker and blasted out, leaving a 35-foot putt to save par. Els, the 24-year-old South African, hit an iron off the tee, hit a 9-iron to within 25 feet and made an easy two-putt for par to  win his first U.S. Open.

 

No. 12: On his way to a one-stroke victory in the 2007 U.S. Open, Argentinian Angel Cabrera, known for his monstrous tee shots, hit a 397-yard drive on the par-5 12th hole. Although he hit only five fairways on Sunday, he ranked second for the week in driving distance with an average of 310 yards.

No. 13: In the 1953 U.S. Open, Sam Snead was only one stroke behind Ben Hogan after 54 holes, but the tides turned when Hogan made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th. Hogan pulled away over the final holes to win by six strokes, forcing Snead to settle as runner-up for the fourth time.

No. 14: Jimmy Thomson, widely regarded as the longest hitter in golf at the time, held the 36-hole lead in the 1935 U.S. Open. At 349 yards, the short par-4 14th seemed like a good birdie opportunity for Thomson, but he made a double bogey in the third round and bogey in the final round. The 14th proved costly to Thomson as he finished just two strokes behind champion Sam Parks Jr.

No. 15: Johnny Miller started the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open six strokes out of the lead. By the time he got to the 453-yard 15th, he had made eight birdies. He ripped a drive, hit 4-iron to 10 feet and walked off the green with his ninth birdie of the day. With pars on the final three holes, his record-breaking 8-under 63 earned the 26-year-old Miller a U.S. Open victory and secured his place in golf history.

No. 16: After a rain delay pushed the final round of the 1983 U.S. Open to Monday, Larry Nelson resumed his round on the 228-yard par 3. Tied with defending champion Tom Watson, Nelson hit a 4-wood to the left side of the green, but was still 62 feet from the hole. He made the lengthy putt for birdie, which put him in the lead for the first time. Nelson maintained that margin to win the second of his three major championships.

No. 17: To earn a spot in an 18-hole playoff against hometown hero Arnold Palmer in the 1962 U.S. Open, Jack Nicklaus needed to convert a crucial up-and-down from thick greenside rough on No. 17. To elimi­nate the break in the 5-foot par putt, he rammed the putt in the center of the hole. Bob Jones later wrote Nicklaus a letter saying that while he watched on television, he nearly jumped out of his wheelchair when Nicklaus struck the putt so boldly.

No. 18: In the final round of the 1927 U.S. Open, Tommy Armour, the 32-year-old World War I veteran who returned from service partially blind in his left eye, needed a 3 on the uphill, 462-yard 18th hole to tie Harry Cooper. After a fine drive, Armour hit a 3-iron within 10 feet and made the putt for birdie. Armour went on to defeat Cooper by three strokes in the playoff the following day.

Victoria Student is historian at the USGA Museum. Contact her at vstudent@usga.org.