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Sports Then and Now

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 →

When Scotland Ruled the US Open Fairways 2

Posted on March 02, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Willie Anderson, four times winner of the US Open between 1901 - 1905.

It is hard to imagine nowadays but once upon a time Scotland dominated the US Open Golf Championship, winning twelve of the first sixteen tournaments, between 1895 and 1910. Amongst those early winners was Willie Anderson who won four times and remains only one of four golfers in the history of the event to have won that many. Anderson is also the only golfer to have won the tournament three times successively, a record that is likely to be in the books forever more.

The first American to win the prestigious US Open golf title was John McDermott, who won twice in succession in 1911 and 1912. His wins in fact sparked American dominance in their home ‘Major’ tournament and was hugely responsible for generating the sport’s popularity in the States.

Scottish success was not completely over however with Willie Macfarlane winning in 1925 becoming the last player from the ‘home of golf’ to have won; he was also the last non-American player to win until Gary Player, the great South African took the title in 1965.

Surprisingly Player only ever won the tournament once but over the years but there have been two golfers from South Africa to have achieved two wins. Firstly Ernie Els, who won in 1994 and 1997 and was followed in by Retief Goosen who claimed the title in 2001 and 2004. Other recent dual winners are the late Payne Stewart, Lee Janzen, Curtis Strange, Andy North, Lee Trevino and Billy Casper.

Tiger Woods is one of only two players to have a hat trick of wins his most recent coming in 2008 when he played his play-off round against Rocco Mediate with a serious injury to his left knee. Woods did not play again that year and has not won another ‘Major’ since. Woods also won in 2000 and 2002 and was second in 2005 and 2007. The other player with three wins is the very popular Hale Irwin, whose third win in 1990 made him the oldest player at 45 to have won the US Open. He also won in 1974 and 1975.

There are three players other than Anderson who have four titles and all three are regarded as legends of the sport of golf, they are Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones, the latter being the last amateur to have lifted the crown. Nicklaus who last won in 1980 was also runner up on five occasions but still holds the record for the most ‘Majors’ won of 18.

In the modern golf era one player who can count himself unlucky not to have won more than once is Phil Mickelson has finished up, like Nicklaus runner up or tied runner up on five times.

The defending champion is Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who will be looking to join the illustrious list of multiple US Open winners when the 2011 US Open gets underway on the Blue Course at the Congressional Golf Club in Bethesda, Maryland on June 15th and the US Open betting is sure to have the Ryder Cup hero and current world number four as a strong contender to do so.

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Dale Murphy: A Hallmark of Excellence
      July 2, 2024 | 1:53 pm
      Dale Murphy

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a standout player of the 1980s, remembered not only for his exceptional skills on the field but also for his exemplary character and sportsmanship.

      Born on March 12, 1956, in Portland, Oregon, Dale Murphy’s journey to becoming one of the most respected players in baseball history is a testament to dedication, perseverance, and a genuine love for the game.

      Early Career and Rise to Prominence

      Murphy was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1974 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut on September 13, 1976, at the age of 20. Initially a catcher, Murphy transitioned to the outfield early in his career, where he would solidify his place as one of the premier outfielders of his era.

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