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Stat of the Month: U.S. Open-Ryder Cup Double; Amateurs Shine in Women’s Open September 14, 2021 By Justin Ray

Stewart a U.S. Open, Ryder Cup Stalwart

Delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 43rd Ryder Cup will be held at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis., on Sept. 24-26. While winning both the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cup in the same season is no small feat, it has actually happened more often than you might think. Three of the last five times the Ryder Cup has been contested, the reigning U.S. Open champion played for the winning side, the last instance being Dustin Johnson in 2016.

Going back to 1979, the year the Ryder Cup expanded to include players from continental Europe, a player has won the U.S. Open and been on the winning Ryder Cup team in the same season seven times. Payne Stewart did it twice, in 1991 and 1999, and is the only player in history to have multiple seasons in which he won the United States Open and was on a winning Ryder Cup team.

Team Europe has enjoyed a dominant stretch in the Ryder Cup recently, winning seven of the last nine played. Jon Rahm will try to become the third European player to win the U.S. Open and be on a winning Ryder Cup side in the same year, joining Martin Kaymer of Germany (2014) and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (2010). This summer, Rahm became the first player from Spain to win any USGA championship when he surged to victory at Torrey Pines.

Players to Win U.S. Open and Play for Winning Ryder Cup Side

Same Season – Since 1979

1979 Hale Irwin (USA)
1991 Payne Stewart (USA)
1993 Lee Janzen (USA)
1999 Payne Stewart (USA)
2010 Graeme McDowell (Europe)
2014 Martin Kaymer (Europe)
2016 Dustin Johnson (USA)


Close Calls for Amateurs

At The Olympic Club this summer, amateur Megha Ganne put together a week to remember. Her opening-round 67 made her the first amateur to hold a share of the lead following any U.S. Women’s Open round since 2006. Through three rounds, Ganne had the fewest putts of any player in the field (77) and was a perfect 37-for-37 putting inside 5 feet. With a score of 210, Ganne tied the second-lowest 54-hole total for any amateur in U.S. Women’s Open history. Playing in the final grouping on Sunday, Ganne went on to finish in a tie for 14th place.

Only one amateur has ever won the U.S. Women’s Open: Catherine Lacoste in 1967. However, there have been close calls by amateur players throughout the championship’s history. In fact, there are a whopping nine instances of an amateur finishing runner-up in the championship, the last being Hye-Jin Choi just four years ago. Two of those runners-up were tied with another player through 72 holes and lost in an 18-hole playoff: Barbara McIntire in 1956 (lost to Kathy Cornelius), and Jenny Chuasiriporn in 1998 (lost to Se Ri Pak). Compare that to the U.S. Open, which has had only one amateur finish runner-up since World War II: Jack Nicklaus in 1960.

Will another amateur ever join Lacoste in the winner’s circle? Consider this: four of the last eight years at the U.S. Women’s Open, at least one amateur has finished in the top 10.

Best Finish by an Amateur In U.S. Women's Open History

1967 Catherine Lacoste (Won)
1950 Betsy Rawls (2nd)
1956 Barbara McIntire (2nd)
1998 Jenny Chuasiriporn (2nd)
2017 Hye-Jin Choi (2nd)
1947 Polly Riley (T-2)
1947 Sally Sessions (T-2)
1975 Nancy Lopez (T-2)
2005 Brittany Lang (T-2)
2005 Morgan Pressel (T-2)

Justin Ray is the head of content for Twenty First Group. He has also worked as a senior researcher at ESPN and Golf Channel.