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U.S. Open – Catching Lightning in a Bottle (Twice) 2

Posted on June 15, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Andy North won only three PGA Tour events, but two of them were U.S. Open Championships.

Andy North won only three PGA Tour events, but two of them were U.S. Open Championships.

If you need any other illustration of how crazy the world of sports can be, all you need to look at is the history of the U.S. Open golf tournament. It is a tournament where two of the greatest champions of all-time, Phil Mickelson and Sam Snead, have a combined total of 10 runner-up finishes without never hoisting the tournament trophy, while there are 5 players over the last 50 years who have won the U.S. Open multiple times without winning any of the other three major titles.

Here is a look at the careers of those five champions who “got lucky” multiple times:

Hale Irwin – 1974, 1979, 1990 – Of the players whose only grand slam championships are at the U.S. Open, Irwin was the most successful in the other tournaments. He had at least one top five finish in each of the other three major championships, including a tie for second place at the British Open in 1983, and a total of 10 top 5 finishes and 20 top 10 finishes in majors. After winning his first U.S. Open in 1974, Irwin finished in the top 10 in each of the four majors in 1975. However, it would not be until 1979 when he claimed his second U.S. Open at the Iverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Between 1980 and 1984, Irwin had four top 8 finishes at majors. However, he finished no higher than 14th in a major for the remainder of the decade. So, it was quite a surprise when at the age of 45, he defeated Mike Donald in a playoff to become the oldest U.S. Open Champion. His final run at a major title was in 1993 when he finished tied for 6th at the PGA Championship at the age of 48.

Andy North – 1978, 1985 – Anyone who watches golf analysis on ESPN is familiar with Andy North. He has been part of their golf coverage for more than two decades. North played college golf at the University of Florida before turning pro in 1972. In 1975 he registered his first top 5 finish at a major with a fourth place showing at the PGA Championship. In 1977 he won his first PGA Tour title capturing the American Express Westchester Classic. The following year he claimed the U.S. Open title by a single stroke over J.C. Snead and Dave Stockton. Though he finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Open in 1980 and 1983, he had very little success in other major tournaments prior to the 1985 U.S. Open. He overcame a four-shot deficit during the final round to win the tournament by a single stroke and claim his second U.S. Open title. He made only a handful of cuts at major championships over the remainder of his career. Read the rest of this entry →

Golfing Great Hale Irwin 16

Posted on May 27, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Hale Irwin

The June Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month if one of only six men in history to win at least three United States Golf Open Championships, with his third victory being an improbable victory in 1990 at the age of 45.

In fact, when Hale Irwin claimed his third U.S. Open title following an improbable 45-foot birdie on the 72nd hole and then a playoff victory over Mike Donald, it had been more than five years since he had last won a PGA tournament. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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