- Associated Press - Thursday, June 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The U.S. Open is known as the toughest test in golf, and it usually lives up to its reputation.

Some years more than others.

Oakmont proved to be downright painful to Phil Mickelson, and that was before the U.S. Open even started. A lasting image of the U.S. Open is players in the rough with grass covering the tops of their shoes, and sometimes the cuffs on their pants. The rock-hard greens. The narrow fairways. Geoff Ogilvy once said the hardest part of the U.S. Open was going over par early in the round and wondering if you’ll ever get back to even.

And even tougher test is trying to narrow down the five toughest U.S. Opens held in the championship’s 117-year history.

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5. MYOPIA HUNT

Which year was the toughest U.S. Open at Myopia Hunt? All of them.

The course north of Boston hosted the U.S. Open in four of the first 14 years until it was deemed to be too difficult. That alone is enough for Myopia Hunt to be considered on any list of “toughest” U.S. Opens.

The U.S. Open switched to 72 holes in 1898 when it first went to Myopia Hunt, and Fred Herd won at 328. The next two Opens, at Baltimore Country Club and Chicago Golf Club, were won with scores of 315 and 313, respectively. Upon returning to Myopia Hunt, Willie Anderson and Alex Smith tied at 331, and Anderson shot 85 the next day for a one-shot win in the playoff.

The winning scores at the next three U.S. Opens were 307, 307 and 303 _ followed by a return to Myopia Hunt, with Willie Anderson winning again, this time at 314. The final U.S. Open at Myopia Hunt was in 1908 and Fred McLeod won at 322 _ 20 shots higher than the winning score a year earlier at Philadelphia Cricket Club.

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4. 2007 AT OAKMONT

Oakmont renewed its reputation as among the toughest tracks in America with its combination of thick grass and the fastest greens around.

How severe was it? Phil Mickelson spent so much time chipping from the rough in the two weeks before the championship that he injured his left wrist and had to withdraw from the Memorial later that week. He wound up missing the cut in the U.S. Open for only the second time in his career. Tiger Woods said a person with a 10 handicap could not break 100. The average score Friday was 76.93, the highest before the cut in more than 10 years.

Aaron Baddeley had a two-shot lead going into the final round and made triple bogey on the first hole on his way to an 80. Angel Cabrera showed his mettle with two key drives on the back nine and a 69 to finish at 5-over 285.

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