ARDMORE, PA. (AP) - The U.S. Open returns to Pennsylvania for the 16th time, the second-most among states behind New York. And while it has gone to only four courses dating to 1907, there is no shortage of great moments.
Ben Hogan won two of his four U.S. Opens in Pennsylvania, a heroic one at Merion in 1950 and a dominant one at Oakmont three years later. Byron Nelson won his only U.S. Open in Philadelphia. Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els won their first U.S. Open titles outside Pittsburgh.
Two of the great 1-irons in U.S. Open history took place in Philadelphia _ Nelson holed out from 210 yards in 1939 in a playoff, while a plaque in the middle of the 18th fairway at Merion commemorates the 1-iron Hogan hit into the 72nd hole that led to a closing par and got him into a playoff.
Here are the top five U.S. Opens in Pennsylvania:
5. THE MERRY MEX AND HIS RUBBER SNAKE
Lee Trevino began to emerge as the latest rival to Jack Nicklaus when he matched the Golden Bear’s U.S. Open scoring record of 275 at Oak Hill in 1968 in beating Nicklaus by four shots. Three years later at Merion, Trevino got him again.
Nicklaus trailed amateur Jim Simons by two shots going into the final round in 1971, with Trevino four shots out of the lead. The Merry Mex closed with a 69, missing a 6-foot par putt on the last hole. Nicklaus missed a 15-foot birdie attempt on the last hole for the win, setting up an 18-hole playoff.
Always the jokester, Trevino lightened the mood on the first tee by pulling a rubber snake from the bag. Nicklaus laughed along and asked Trevino to throw it his way. Once the laughter subsided, Trevino was all business. He fell behind briefly, but then Nicklaus twice failed to escape a bunker. He never caught up. Trevino made two big birdie putts on the back nine from about 25 feet on his way to a 68 to win by three shots.
It was the only playoff Nicklaus lost in a major. Trevino would get him again the following year in the British Open, denying Nicklaus‘ bid for the Grand Slam. Trevino won six majors in his career. Nicklaus was the runner-up in four of them.
4. HERE’S JOHNNY
What appeared to be a shot at redemption for Arnold Palmer in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont turned into one many consider the best final round in championship history by Johnny Miller.
Oakmont is regarded the toughest track for the U.S. Open, though it was softer than usual because sprinklers presumably were left longer than usual before Friday’s round, and rain saturated the course on Saturday. More critical to Miller was finding a swing key on the practice range Saturday night, which involved opening his stance. He went into the final round six shots behind John Schlee, Julius Boros, Jerry Heard and Palmer, who had lost in a playoff to Nicklaus at the previous Open at Oakmont.
They all became footnotes in history.