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5 toughest US Opens
3. 1951 AT OAKLAND HILLS
With due respect to Johnny Miller and his 63 at Oakmont, one can make an argument that the greatest closing round in U.S. Open history belongs to Ben Hogan at Oakland Hills. Hogan didn’t mince words, and his comment upon winning his second straight U.S. Open gave the course its nickname.
“I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees,” he said.
This was the first year the U.S. Open began the practice of converting par 5s into par 4s, and Hogan won at 7-over 287. He opened with rounds of 76-73, and at 9 over was still only five shots behind Bobby Locke. He shot 71-67 on the final day to win by two shots over Clayton Heafner.
Hogan considered that final round one of the best he ever played.
2. 1955 AT OLYMPIC CLUB
The Olympic Club gained a reputation as the “graveyard of champions” for the major champions who finish second. And the 1955 U.S. Open is best known for how unheralded Jack Fleck took down Ben Hogan in one of golf’s great upsets.
What gets overlooked is how difficult Olympic played that year.
There were only seven rounds under par all week, and Fleck had three of them, including the playoff. Fleck had to birdie two of the last four holes to force a playoff with Hogan at 7-over 287. And they were five shots clear of Tommy Bolt and Sam Snead in third place.
Most telling about the difficulty of Olympic Club that year are images of Hogan chopping his way to double bogey on the final hole of the playoff. The grass was so thick that he could barely advance his ball, and it was so deep that the cuffs on his pants are covered. Combine that with narrow fairways and tiny, firm greens, and it became a test of Olympic proportions.
1. 1974 AT WINGED FOOT
This is known as the “Massacre at Winged Foot,” though it could just as easily be called “Payback Time.”
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