5 best US Opens played in California

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Of the states that have hosted the U.S. Open at least 10 times, California was the last to join the rotation in 1948 at Riviera.

But the Golden State has delivered some golden moments over the years.

With the growing importance of television ratings and revenue, taking the U.S. Open to California means prime-time viewing for most of the country. Torrey Pines in 2008 was the first time the tee times were pushed back to allow for a prime-time finish on the East Coast, and Tiger Woods put on quite a show.

Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan were denied a record fifth U.S. Open in California.

Nicklaus had a signature moment on the 17th tee at Pebble Beach with a 1-iron that struck the pin, and 10 years later, Tom Watson had his signature moment behind the 17th green by chipping in for birdie.

Here are the top five U.S. Opens in California:

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5. HOGAN‘S ALLEY OFF SUNSET BOULEVARD.

Ben Hogan going to Riviera for the 1948 U.S. Open was similar to Tiger Woods going to Pebble Beach. Hogan won the Los Angeles Open in 1947 with a record-tying 66 in the second round. He defended his title at Riviera with a course-record 275. So when the U.S. Open rolled into town in June, all eyes were on Hogan, who had just won the PGA Championship. As usual, Hogan delivered.

Sam Snead, with yet another chance to finally win the U.S. Open, had the 36-hole lead going into the final day. Hogan closed with rounds of 68-69 to win by two strokes over Jimmy DeMaret. Hogan broke the U.S. Open scoring record by five shots _ a record that stood for nearly two decades _ and he became the first player with three rounds in the 60s at a U.S. Open.

No wonder Riviera became known as “Hogan’s Alley.”

Hogan was not able to defend this title. Eight months after the first of his four U.S. Open titles, his car was struck by a bus in west Texas and nearly killed him.

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4. AN UPSET OF OLYMPIC PROPORTIONS

Not many paid attention to Jack Fleck, a club pro from Iowa, and some might not even have known he was in the field in 1955.

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