Surprisingly, only three California courses—Torrey Pines will
be the fourth—have hosted the U.S. Open. (Illinois and New York both have eight
Open courses each.) But California’s Opens have produced some of the best
memories in the championship’s history.
1948 Riviera Country Club Ben
Hogan won the first of four U.S. Opens at the course that came to be known as
Hogan’s Alley. He shot 276, a new scoring record.
1955 Olympic Club
(Lake) Unknown Jack Fleck, a club pro from Iowa, shot 33 on the back nine to
tie Hogan, then shot 69 in the playoff in one of golf’s biggest upsets.
Olympic Club (Lake) There was another shocker 11 years later, thanks to
Arnold Palmer’s collapse. Palmer gave up a seven-shot lead to playing partner
Billy Casper over the final nine holes, then lost the playoff the next
1972 Pebble Beach Golf Links Jack Nicklaus hit the second-most famous
1-iron ever, off the flagstick on the par-3 17th hole in the final round to
clinch his third Open.
1982 Pebble Beach Golf Links Tom Watson hit an
even more memorable shot on No. 17 in the last round. After missing the green,
Watson, who was tied with Nicklaus, told his caddie, Bruce Edwards, “I’m going
to make it.” And he did.
1987 Olympic Club (Lake) For the third time, a
legend fell at an Olympic Open. This time, the victim was Watson, who held a
one-shot 54-hole lead over California native Scott Simpson, whose final-nine 32
edged Watson by one stroke.
1992 Pebble Beach Golf Links On a difficult,
windy day final round in which the field averaged 77.3 strokes, Tom Kite lived
up to his reputation as a grinder, battling to a round of 72, including a
pitch-in birdie on the 107-yard 7th, to win by two.
1998 Olympic Club
(Lake) Payne Stewart’s bad luck—an ill-advised hole location on the 18th
green in the second round, a drive that ended up in a sand-filled divot on the
12th hole in the final round—contributed to his second-place finish to Lee
Janzen, who won his second Open.
2000 Pebble Beach Golf Links Tiger Woods
was so dominant in winning his first U.S. Open that he would have needed to give
the field two strokes a side for all four rounds to make the tournament
competitive—his 15-stroke margin is the largest ever in a major.