As the 115th U.S. Open -- set to take place at Chambers Bay in Tacoma -- draws near, we get you primed for one of the best weekends in golf with a look at some of the key players to watch, as well as some of the finest moments in U.S. Open history.

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*U.S. Open countdown: 4 days

1996: Steve Jones pulls off the upset
Steve Jones became the first player in 20 years to win the U.S. Open after going through sectional qualifying when he defeated Tom Lehman and Davis Love III by a shot at Oakland Hills Country Club outside Detroit. Entering the tournament, Jones had not won on the PGA Tour since 1989 and had missed almost three years after injuring his shoulder, ankle and finger in a dirt-bike accident. Love and Lehman both made bogeys on the final hole of regulation, while Jones made a par.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: Michael Putnam
The 32-year-old from University Place has had this event on his mind for years, but couldn’t get too excited because he first had to qualify. He did that by finishing tied for first in the sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. For Putnam, it was a bit of redemption as he had seemed almost a lock to get a spot in last year’s Open with a few holes left in the 36-hole qualifier. But he played the final six holes in
5 over and the last two in 3 over to fall into a playoff for one of the final spots, which he lost. But, the 6-foot-3 Putman, who was a star high-school basketball player, is in the U.S. Open that matters most to him.
Scott Hanson

1997: Els outduels Montgomerie

Els, the South African nicknamed the Big Easy, dueled with European star Colin Montgomerie down the stretch at Congressional Country Club outside Washington D.C., with Els winning by a shot after Montgomerie bogeyed the tough 17th hole and Els made a par. Els, who also won the 1994 U.S. Open, is in the field this year because of his victory in the 2012 British Open. Montgomerie, for all his success in Europe, never won on the PGA Tour, but he finished second five times in majors. He has won three majors on the Champions, including last year’s U.S. Senior Open, which earned the 51-year-old a spot in the field at Chambers Bay.

Scott Hanson


Player to watch: Miguel Angel Jimenez
Jimenez, 51, is often called by TV announcers “the most interesting man in golf.” He is known for liking fast cars, cigars and fine red wines. He is ranked No. 47 in the world, the highest of any player who is 50 or older. Jimenez, from Spain, has won 21 times on the European Tour and two times on the Champions Tour. He has not won on the PGA Tour, but he has finished in the top 10 of all four majors. Jimenez finished tied for second in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but that was 15 shots behind Tiger Woods. Jimenez tied for sixth in the 2008 U.S. Open, the last time he has made the cut in the championship.

Scott Hanson

1954: A historic Open
For the first time in history, the U.S. Open was nationally televised. The 1954 U.S. Open also is known for being the first time there were stakes and ropes along the fairway and greens, keeping fans a greater distance from the players. Spokane product Al Mengert led midway through the third round, but faded to a tie for 13th. The winner was Ed Furgol, who won six times on the PGA Tour, with this victory being his lone major. Marty Furgol finished tied for 18th. Both Ed and Marty Furgol were from New York Mills, N.Y., but they were not related.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: Zach Johnson
A player who seems to go unnoticed at times, Zach Johnson has built an impressive resume with 11 victories on the PGA Tour, including a win in the 2007 Masters. He has 62 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, with career winnings of more than $35 million. He has never been a long hitter (he is tied for 170th in driving distance this year), but makes up for that with his stellar short game. He is ranked No. 24 in the world and although he has not won this season, he has nine top-25 finishes in 15 events. He seems like he has the type of game that would suit him to a U.S. Open, but his best finish is a tie for 30th in 2011.
Scott Hanson

1930: Bobby Jones wins his fourth title
One of the game’s all-time greats, Jones took a five-shot lead into the final round at Interlachen Country Club outside Minneapolis and won by two shots over Macdonald Smith. That gave Jones back-to-back titles and his fourth overall title (he also won in 1923 and 1926), tying him for the most ever with Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Willie Anderson. In 1930, he also won the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the British Amateur to complete what was then considered the Grand Slam. He is the only golfer to ever achieve that. But Jones, who was also a lawyer and never turned pro as a golfer, retired from competitive golf after his historic 1930 at the age of 28. Jones, known for his great sportsmanship, helped design Augusta National in 1933 and co-founded the Masters in 1934. Jones came out of retirement and played in the Masters on an exhibition basis until 1948. His best finish was a tie for 13th in 1934. Jones died in 1971 at the age of 69.
Scott Hanson

1938: Ralph Guldahl repeats
In the middle of a five-year span in which he was as a good as any player in the world, Ralph Guldahl successfully defended his U.S. Open title with a six-shot victory at Cherry Hills in Colorado. He was the last player to win the U.S. Open while wearing a necktie during competition. A 16-time winner on the PGA Tour, he never won again after turning 28 as his game inexplicably took a sudden downturn. In 1961, Guldahl was hired as the club pro at the new Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. Guldahl remained there until he died in 1987 at the age of 75. One of his students was billionaire Howard Hughes.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: Ian Poulter
Poulter, 39, created quite a stir at the end of April when he tweeted, “Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.” Ranked No. 25 in the world, the Englishman has won 12 times on the European Tour and twice on the PGA Tour, but he has not won a stroke-play event on U.S. soil. His two PGA Tour victories were in China in 2012 and in the world match-play event in 2010. In a poll of players earlier this year, he tied with Rickie Fowler as the most overrated player on Tour. Poulter’s best finish in the U.S. Open is a tie for 12th in 2006.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: Bernd Wiesberger

Give yourself a point if you knew who Wiesberger is. Give yourself a bonus point if you know what his claim to fame is. Give up? He became the first Austrian to play in the U.S. Open when he made the field last year at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Wiesberger missed the cut in that event, but was tied for 15th in last year’s PGA Championship and was tied for 22nd two months ago at the Masters in his first appearance in the event. He is ranked No. 37 in the world and has two career wins on the European Tour. He finished tied for second in last week’s Irish Open.
Scott Hanson

1911: An American finally wins
The first 16 U.S. Opens were won by players from Great Britain, but that streak ended in 1911 when 19-year-old John McDermott Jr. won at Chicago Golf Club, beating fellow Americans Mike Brady and George Simpson. He remains the youngest winner in the history of the championship. The following year, McDermott proved it was no fluke, successfully defending his title at the Country Club of Buffalo (N.Y.). In 1914, while traveling back to the United States, the ship he was on collided with another. Shortly thereafter, McDermott began suffering from mental illness, and his golf career essentially was over at
age 23.
Scott Hanson

1964: A courageous victory
Ken Venturi, known more to younger generations as the longtime golf analyst on CBS, picked up his only major title in the 1964 U.S. Open held at Congressional Country Club outside Washington, D.C. In the last year of the Open’s final two rounds being played in one day, Venturi finished the third round two shots behind leader Tommy Jacobs after a 66. But Venturi was suffering from dehydration on the very hot and humid day, and doctors advised him to withdraw as he would risk heat stroke if he played. Venturi played anyway, and with the help of salt pills, shot a final-round 70 to beat Jacobs by four shots.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: J.B. Holmes
Holmes, 32, has moved from 66th in the Official Golf Rankings at the end of last year to No. 13. He won this year’s Houston Open and also has two seconds and two other top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season. One of the longest hitters on tour, Holmes has come back from brain surgery in 2011 after he was diagnosed with structural defects in the cerebellum. He has four career victories on the PGA Tour and played for the U.S. in the 2008 Ryder Cup, beating Soren Hansen 2-1 in singles. Full name is John Bradley Holmes. He grew up in Kentucky, then went to college at the University of Kentucky.
Scott Hanson

1995: Pavin’s 4-wood clinches victory
Corey Pavin trailed third-round leaders Tom Lehman and Greg Norman by two shots entering the final 18 holes at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. But Pavin had taken a one-shot lead over Norman entering the 18th hole on Sunday and faced a difficult second shot from 228 yards away on the final hole. He hit a 4-wood that landed just short on the green and rolled about 5 feet from the hole, with Pavin running up the fairway to get a better look. He missed the first putt, but tapped in the second and he went on to win by two shots over Norman after one of the great clutch approach shots in U.S. Open history. It was one of eight runner-up finishes for Norman in a major.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: Dustin Johnson
Johnson, 30, has won nine times on the PGA Tour and is among the game’s longest hitters. He is still looking for his first major victory, but he has seven top-10 finishes in majors and was tied for fourth at last year’s U.S. Open. He took a six-month break last year to work through personal issues. Golf Magazine reported that Johnson had been suspended from the PGA Tour for six months after testing positive for cocaine, which the Tour denied, saying it was a voluntary leave. He has returned in good form, winning the World Golf Championship event at Doral (Fla.) in March. He and partner Paulina Gretzky, the oldest daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, had a son in January.
Scott Hanson

 

Player to watch: Alexander Levy

The Frenchman, one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, looked like he was in the U.S. Open field, then he was out, and then back in again. All in about 24 hours. He had been in the top 60 in the Official Golf Rankings since the start of the year, but fell out this past week. It was a bad week to fall out as the top 60 in the rankings this week earned exemptions into the U.S. Open. But hours later, he earned his spot the hard way as the top qualifier in the 36-hole sectional in England. Born to French parents in California, he moved to France at age 4. He won twice on the European Tour last year and joined the PGA Tour this season.

Scott Hanson


 

Player to watch: Ryan Moore

Moore, 32, from Puyallup, is the only player with local ties who is exempt into the U.S. Open without having to qualify. In 2004, he had one of the greatest amateur seasons in history, winning the NCAA championship, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Amateur Public Links. He has won four times on the PGA Tour and is ranked No. 34 in the world. He owns a home on American Lake in Lakewood, less than 10 miles from Chambers Bay. He is also the face of Ryan Moore Golf Course Management, which owns and operates The Classic in Spanaway, Oakbrook Golf Club in Tacoma and McCormick Woods Golf Course in Port Orchard.

Scott Hanson


 

1962: Nicklaus edges Palmer

Two years earlier, Arnold Palmer had come from seven shots back entering the final round to win the U.S. Open, and Nicklaus, then a 20-year-old amateur at Ohio State, finished second. Palmer shared the lead entering the final round of the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh and Nicklaus was two behind. The two dueled on the final nine holes of regulation, with Palmer missing a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have won the championship. The two met in an 18-hole playoff the next day and Nicklaus won by three shots, for his first professional win and the first of his record 18 major victories.
Scott Hanson

1966: Casper’s rally and Palmer’s collapse
Billy Casper trailed leader Arnold Palmer by seven strokes with nine holes left in the final round at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and Palmer seemed a lock to win his second U.S. Open. Palmer still had a five-shot cushion with four holes to play, but he lost two of those shots on the 15th hole, two more on the 16th and Casper moved into a tie when Palmer made a bogey on the 17th. They both parred the 18th, setting up an 18-hole playoff the next day. Palmer had a two-shot lead through nine holes of the playoff, but Casper beat him by six shots on the back nine to win his second U.S. Open. For Palmer, it was his fourth second-place finish in a six-year span.
Scott Hanson

Player to watch: Sergio Garcia

The 35-year-old Spaniard is at or near the top of the list of best current players to never win a major. That would have been hard to imagine when at age 19 he dueled with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA championship before finishing second. Garcia has 19 top-10 finishes in major championships, and his best U.S. Open finish is a tie for third in 2005. He went through a big slump during the latter part of 2009 and into 2010, then took a several-month break. Long considered one of the best ball strikers in the game, Garcia has reemerged as one of the top players in the world and is No. 7 in the Official World Golf rankings.

Scott Hanson


 

Player to watch: Angel Cabrera

Nicknamed “El Pato” (“duck” in Spanish), because of his gait. He saves his best performances for major championships. Of his three victories in the U.S., two are major titles: the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh and the 2009 Masters. He is the only player from Argentina to win either of those events. Cabrera, 45, has 10 top-10 finishes in majors, and has participated in four of the past five Presidents Cups. He grew up in Cordoba, Argentina, and began working as a caddie as a 10-year-old at Cordoba Country Club. His son, Angel Cabrera Jr., caddied for him at the 2013 Masters when he lost in a playoff to Adam Scott.


1960: Palmer rallies from seven back

Arnold Palmer’s lone U.S. Open win came at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo. He trailed third-round leader Mike Souchak by seven shots entering the final round. When Souchak faded, Palmer’s biggest threats were Jack Nicklaus, a 20-year-old amateur from Ohio State, and 47-year-old Ben Hogan, looking for his fifth U.S. Open title. Nicklaus led after nine holes in the final round, but two three-putts on the back nine cost him and he finished second, two shots behind Palmer. Hogan was tied for the lead with two holes left, but he found the water on both, and a bogey and triple bogey dropped him into a tie for ninth. For Palmer, his final-round 65 led to the biggest comeback in U.S. Open history.


1968: Trevino makes history

Lee Trevino shot a 69 in the final round at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., to rally past Bert Yancey and hold off Jack Nicklaus. Trevino shot rounds of 69-68-69-69 to win by four strokes over Nicklaus at 5-under overall. It was the first time a player had been in the 60s in all for rounds of the U.S. Open and it didn’t happen again for 25 years when Lee Janzen accomplished the feat. Finishing in a tie for ninth at the 1968 U.S. Open was 56-year-old Sam Snead. It was the 12th and final time he finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Open, which he never won and was the one missing major from his resume.


Player to watch: Colin Montgomerie

Montgomerie, 51, won 31 times on the European Tour and eight times won the European Tour Order of Merit as its top player for the year. Although he finished second in the U.S. Open (three times), the British Open and the PGA Championship, he never won a major and never won on the PGA Tour. The Hall of Famer had issues with galleries in the United States from time to time in PGA Tour events. But he had great success last year in the 50-and-older Champions Tour, winning the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open, the latter victory earning him a spot at Chambers Bay.


1982: Watson edges Nicklaus

Tom Watson was ranked No. 1 in the world  but for him to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he would have to beat Jack Nicklaus, who had 17 major titles to his credit  (he would add No. 18 at the 1986 Masters). Nicklaus had finished his final round  at 4 under, tied for the lead with Watson,  who had two holes left. Watson hit his  tee shot on the 17th hole   behind the green  in the rough. Facing a delicate chip shot, Watson holed out and raced onto the green, pointing at his caddie. It has been replayed on TV perhaps a million times. Watson birdied the 18th to win by two shots, one of his eight major titles.


Player to watch: Jim Furyk

The winner of 17 PGA Tour events, including the 2003 U.S. Open, he won for the   first time in five years when he captured the RBC Heritage last month in a playoff over Kevin Kisner. That victory has helped push him to No. 5 in the world rankings. In addition to the 2003 Open triumph  at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago, the 45-year-old has five other top-five finishes in the U.S. Open, including two seconds. He has an unorthodox swing that commentator David Feherty once described as looking like “an octopus falling out of a tree.”  His father, Mike, is the only coach Jim has ever had.


1999: Stewart’s final win

In 1998, Payne Stewart held a four-shot lead entering the final round of the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco, but he faded to second. He  was in position to redeem  himself the next year at famed Pinehurst No. 2 in North  Carolina, taking a one-shot lead after a birdie on the 17th hole in the final round. Stewart   made a 15-foot par putt on the final hole to avoid an 18-hole playoff with runner-up Phil Mickelson. It was Stewart’s second U.S. Open victory, his third win in a major,  and his 11th and final win on the PGA Tour. Four months after the win at Pinehurst, Stewart died in an airplane accident at age 42.


A European breakthrough

Tony Jacklin of England won the 1970 U.S. Open at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., by seven shots. But    it was 40 years before a  European won another  U.S. Open. Graeme McDowell, the gritty Northern Irishman, won the 2010 U.S. Open at California’s Pebble Beach  by a stroke over another European, Gregory Havret from France.  McDowell’s victory began quite a run for European golfers at the U.S. Open. Rory McIlroy, also from Northern Ireland, was the winner in 2011, England’s Justin Rose won in 2013 and Germany’s Martin Kaymer was an easy winner last year.


Player to watch: Henrik Stenson

The Swede is ranked No. 3 in the world and is among the best players to never win a major. He has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world, the highest ever for a player from Sweden. Stenson, who tied for fourth in last year’s U.S. Open, has finished in the top four in four of the past seven majors.The biggest victory for the 39-year-old was at the 2009 Players Championship. In 2013, he won the seasonlong championships on both the PGA and European tours and won the season-ending events on both tours. He played his first round of golf when he was 12 after following a friend to the driving range and getting hooked.


2008: Tiger’s most recent major win

Playing on an injured knee that would require surgery, Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in a playoff to win his 14th major championship. Woods trailed by one shot entering the final hole of regulation at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., but made a 12-foot birdie putt to force an 18-hole playoff vs. Mediate the next day. Woods trailed by a shot entering the 18th hole of the playoff, but Mediate parred and Woods birdied to send it to sudden-death extra holes. It took Woods one hole (No. 17) to end it, as he made a par and Mediate a bogey. Woods has nine top-six finishes in majors since then but no wins.


Player to watch: Jordan Spieth

He will be one of the favorites to win at Chambers Bay after winning the Masters last month and rising to No. 2 in the world rankings. Spieth, unlike most players in the field, has played at Chambers Bay before, participating in the 2010 U.S. Amateur. The 21-year-old has become one of the more popular players on the PGA Tour and should get added support here as his caddie, Michael Greller, is from University Place and is a former caddie at Chambers Bay. Spieth already has won a USGA event in Washington, claiming the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2011. He joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win that tournament more than once.


The only deep threat

Scotland’s Willie Anderson opened the 1905 U.S. Open at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass., with an 81 and an 80 and his best round was a 76, but he still won his third consecutive Open that year with a score of 314, two shots better than fellow Scot Alex Smith. The scoring was so tough that no player broke 75 for a round. Anderson made $200 for his victory, which was his fourth overall. No one has equaled his feat of winning three straight U.S. Opens, and his four career titles is tied for the most with Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. He died on Oct. 25, 1910, just days after his 31st birthday. The official cause was epilepsy, but arteriosclerosis, a brain tumor and acute alcoholism have also been speculated as the cause of death.


Player to watch: Erik Compton

The former Georgia Bulldog earned his way into the U.S. Open by finishing tied for second at last year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Compton, 35, is most known for what he has endured off the course: two heart transplants. He had his first when he was 12 years old and a second one in 2008. In 2009, he received the Ben Hogan Award, given to a golfer who has stayed active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness. Compton, who has an American father and a Norwegian mother and owns dual citizenship, won the Mexican Open on the Web.com Tour in 2011, edging former UW Husky Richard Lee.


Miracle at Merion

This was perhaps the most memorable of the great Ben Hogan’s nine major championships, coming 16 months after he was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus. Hogan spent nearly two months in the hospital and was told he might not ever play golf again. But Hogan defied the odds and won the second of his four U.S. Opens in 1950, beating Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio in an 18-hole playoff at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. It was Hogan’s first victory since the accident. Hogan won the U.S. Open again in 1951 and in 1953. He finished third in 1952.


The 2000 U.S. Open: a one-man show

Tiger Woods was never better than he was 15 years ago at the U.S. Open at California’s Pebble Beach, a course that gave the rest of the field fits. There was Tiger Woods and then there was everyone else as he won by 15 strokes, a major-championship record for margin of victory, with a score of 12-under 268. Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez finished tied for second at 3 over. “Tiger Woods was playing a different tournament after two rounds,” Jimenez said. “After two rounds, I was playing against everybody else.”


Player to watch: Rickie Fowler

The stylishly dressed 26-year-old is one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour, especially with younger fans. But with just one career victory, Fowler recently tied with Ian Poulter in a vote of players as the most overerrated (each getting 24 percent). Fowler does have seven second-place finishes and last year he finished in the top five in all four majors: fifth at the Masters, runner-up at the U.S. Open and British Open and tied for third at the PGA Championship. The only two other players who have been in the top five of all four majors in one season are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Overrated or not, he will be sure to have some of the largest galleries at Chambers Bay.

Plus, he may or may not be color blind. You decide for yourself:


Player to watch: Darren Clarke

He has been one of the more popular players on the PGA Tour for years, and he draws a crowd of reporters wherever he goes these days, although most of the questions are not about the Irishman’s game. They are about his views on the Ryder Cup as Clarke is the captain for the 2016 European squad. Clarke won the 2011 British Open, and that means he is in June’s 2015 U.S. Open without having to qualify. He has three wins on the PGA Tour, but no top 10s since the British Open win and he has fallen to 487th in the world rankings. But look for him at Chambers Bay. He will be wearing a big smile and will have lots of European reporters in tow.


The do’s and don’ts for taking photos

If you’d like to capture a photo of your favorite golfer on Puget Sound soil, be sure to attend one of the U.S. Open’s three practice days at Chambers Bay, June 15-17 (Monday-Wednesday). Those are the only days the public will be allowed to take photos. Even then, only still photos will be allowed (no video or audio), and no photos are allowed while a golfer is addressing the ball or swinging. For more spectator information, including details on park-ride shuttles to the course, go to www.usopen.com/index.html and click on “Know before you go.”

Jack Broom


No 10-year celebration for Campbell

Of the 50 players who were exempt into the U.S. Open in June, the only one who did not enter was New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, 46. Ten years ago, he was one of golf’s rising stars and won the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. But that was his last victory. It gave him a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Open, but rather than taking advantage of that one more time, he retired Friday, saying, “Right now, I have got no motivation to play. Obviously (winning the Open) 10 years ago was something special for me and for the country and for golf itself.”


Tracking the Golden Bear

In 1972, tickets to the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach were still available the day of the event. So some high-school buddies and I decided to be first in line. We arrived at 3 a.m., but the parking lot didn’t open until 6. So we slept on the side of the road and were rewarded by being the first in. Our strategy was simple: Walk the entire course with an early group, then settle into a good vantage point. We were at the back of the 16th green as Jack Nicklaus came up in the final group. As fortune had it, we were in perfect position to watch Nicklaus tee off on the treacherous, 218-yard par-3 17th. Teeing off directly toward Monterey Bay in swirling, gusty winds, the ball landed within three feet of the flagstick, bounced once and rattled off the pin before settling inches from the cup. Nicklaus later called his magnificent 1-iron the greatest in-swing adjustment he ever made and he went on to win by three shots.

Jim Riley


Double-eagle and a double-hit

Thirty years ago, T.C. Chen scored the first recorded albatross in U.S. Open history, holing his second shot at Oakland Hills Country Club (Mich.) on the par-5 second hole from 256 yards with a 3-wood. That helped spur Chen to a four-shot lead heading into the fifth hole. What happened there is remembered much more than his earlier exploit as his lead vanished on that hole. On his fourth shot, he double-hit from the rough, resulting in a stroke penalty. He finished the fifth hole with a quadruple bogey, and obviously bothered by what had happened, he bogeyed the next three holes as well. “I could not calm down,” he later told Golf Digest. “I kept asking myself, ‘Why?’ ” The beneficiary of Chen’s meltdown was Andy North, who won his second U.S. Open. Chen finished tied for second, a shot back.


Going back to back

Curtis Strange is the last player to win consecutive U.S. Opens, winning in 1988 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and in 1989 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.

Strange was the first player to win consecutive U.S. Opens since Ben Hogan accomplished the feat in 1950 and 1951. Strange, one of the game’s best players in the 1980s, never won again on the PGA Tour after his victory in the 1989 U.S. Open and has not won on the Champions Tour. He worked many years as a TV analyst and was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.


Famous U.S. Open quotes

“I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.” — Ben Hogan after shooting final-round 67 to win 1951 Open at Oakland Hills Country Club.

Did he play every hole?” — Bobby Locke after Hogan’s final-round 67 in 1951.

“If I had been able to beat that strong, young dude in the tournament, I might have held him off for another five years. . . . I let the Bear out of the cage.” — Arnold Palmer on losing to Jack Nicklaus in the 1962 U.S. Open playoff.

“There are more bogeys in the last nine holes of the U.S. Open than in any other tournament in God’s creation.” — Raymond Floyd, winner of the 1986 U.S. Open.


Player to watch: Bubba Watson

Expect big galleries to follow Watson, who booms long drives with his pink driver and can shape shots as well anyone. Watson has won two Masters in the past four years, but he has not had great success in the U.S. Open. Since finishing in a tie for fifth in the 2007 U.S. Open, Watson’s best finish in the event is a tie for 18th with three missed cuts. Watson, the fourth-ranked player in the world, competed in charity skins games at Chambers Bay in 2007 and 2008, finishing third and second, respectively, among four players.


Player to watch: Justin Rose

Rose, who was born in South Africa but grew up in England, burst into prominence at the 1998 British Open when he finished tied for fourth as a 17-year-old amateur. Rose turned professional the next day, then proceeded to miss the cut in his first 21 events as a professional. But he persevered, won for the first time on the European Tour in 2002 and gained his first of seven PGA Tour victories in 2010 at the Memorial. His biggest victory came in 2013 when he won the U.S. Open at Merion (Pa.) Golf Club by two shots over Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. He is currently No. 6 in the world rankings.


Kite’s breakthrough

There is no worse description for a professional golfer than to be called “the world’s best player who has never won a major.” Those words were often applied to bespectacled Tom Kite in the years before the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. In the final round, Kite persevered through some of the most difficult conditions ever endured in a major championship. Hard, gusting wind dried out already lightning-quick greens producing a final-round scoring average of 77.3. Only four of the 66 players that day were able to break par and 20 of the best players in the world shot 80 or worse. On the famous 107-yard seventh hole, Kite took a full rip with a 6-iron and his ball finished pin high but in the thick rough to the left of the green. Kite’s pitch shot would not have stayed on the green except that it clanked off the flagstick and into the cup for a birdie. Kite said there was one club responsible for the victory — a lob wedge that he used nine times in his even-par round of 72. Kite won by two strokes over Jeff Sluman and by three over Colin Montgomerie. Montgomery jumped over 25 golfers with a 2-under 70 early in the day before conditions worsened, and was famously congratulated on his first major win by Jack Nicklaus until Kite displayed his famous grit to hold on and win his only major.

Jim Riley


Sergio pulls off a shocker

In 1967, Orville Moody ended his 14-year career in the U.S. Army, and two years later he advanced through local and sectional qualifying to win the U.S. Open in 1969 at Champions Golf Club in Houston. Nicknamed Sarge for attaining the rank as sergeant in the army, he is the last player to win the Open coming through both local and sectional qualifying and it was his only victory on the PGA Tour. He did however, win 11 times on the Champions Tour, including the 1989 U.S. Senior Open. Moody died in 2008 at the age of 74.


Simpson rises above the noise

One problem at the Open in 1987 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco was that a series of port-a-potties were set up too close to one of the teeing areas on the back nine. This particular set was also equipped with springs wound far too tight. So as golf fans relieved themselves and left, there were door slams that disrupted golfers on a nearby tee. Even Jack Nicklaus had to back off his tee shot due to a slam just before he started his backswing. Nicklaus then used a port-a-potty inside the ropes, and it too slammed as he left. The golfer who best survived the racket was Scott Simpson, who won with a 3-under total of 277. Nicklaus, then 47, tied for 46th, one of 35 cuts made by The Golden Bear in 44 appearances in the event.

Jim Riley


The greatest round ever?

Johnny Miller trailed by six shots entering the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at historic Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, then shot a 63 on the notoriously tough course to win by a shot. It was the lowest score in majors history, and no one has gone lower in a major since. He hit every green in regulation, and his score could have been better as he had two putts lip out. “It’s not like I ran the table, chipped in, holed bunker shots and made 60-foot putts,” Miller told a reporter years later. “It was sort of an easy 63.” And easily the highlight of a very good career for Miller, the longtime golf analyst for NBC.


Humble beginnings

Just 11 players took part in the first U.S. Open in 1895, and it was held in just one day at the Newport (R.I.) Country Club.
They played the nine-hole course at the country club four times. England’s Harold Rawlins, after shooting a 91 the first 18 holes, rallied to win by two shots with a total of 173 after scoring 82 on his final 18 holes.The prize fund was $350, and Rawlings won $150 and a gold medal. By comparison, Martin Kaymer won $1.62 million by winning the U.S. Open last year at Pinehurst (N.C) No. 2.


Domination at Pinehurst No. 2

Martin Kaymer had won The Players Championship the month before, but he was still a bit overlooked entering last year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. The German then proceeded to turn the tournament into a one-man show, going wire-to-wire and winning by eight shots. He never gave anyone much of a chance after shooting a record 130 (65-65) in the first two rounds.
“Of course you’re nervous when you’re leading a major championship,” he said after the final round. “We’re human beings, not robots.”


The start of an era

This U.S. Open will be the first major golf event Fox Sports will broadcast, and expect innovation, said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of rules, competition and equipment standards for the USGA. “Fox is going to put cameras in the bottom of holes,” he said. “They’re going to put them at ground level. They’re going to put them in the face of bunkers, so when you’re sitting watching TV, the sand will splash through the TV set at you. The pain the golf ball feels when it’s struck, you’ll feel through the TV set. That’s how they talk, they’re going to take a 2D experience and make it a 3D experience.”There will be 40 hours of coverage tournament week, all on the same channel.“You’re not going to go from ESPN to NBC and back to ESPN, you’re going to stay on Fox,” Bodenhamer said.

Paul Ramsdell


The toughest loss of all

Phil Mickelson has finished second a record six times in the U.S. Open and needs to win it to become the sixth player in the Masters era to complete the career Grand Slam. Of his near misses, the most painful to watch came in 2006 at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. The left-hander got to the 72nd hole needing just a par to win. But disaster struck. His tee shot bounced off a corporate hospitality tent. Rather than take the safe route and pitch the ball back into the fairway, he tried to slice it around a tree, but it hit a branch and went about 25 yards. His third shot found the greenside bunker and after blasting it out into the fringe, he missed the bogey putt which could have put him in an 18-hole playoff. “I am such an idiot,” Mickelson said afterward.


2011: A story of redemption

Rory McIlroy was in position to win his first major title at the 2011 Masters, holding a four-shot lead entering the final round. Just 21 at the time, he shot a final-round 80 to fall into a tie for 15th place.

How he would handle that collapse was a story heading into the U.S. Open two months later, and he responded with a record-setting victory at Congressional outside Washington, D.C. McIlroy won by eight shots in a record score of 16-under 268.

McIlroy has added three more major titles since winning the 2011 U.S. Open and has risen to No. 1 in the world rankings. He is the early favorite for the upcoming U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.


Player to watch: Martin Kaymer

Which player will we see in June? The one who dominated last year’s U.S. Open, winning by eight shots and who also won last year’s Players Championship, or the one who has missed his last three cuts and has not finished higher than tied for 31st in PGA Tour events in 2015? When he’s on, the 30-year-old German, who has won two major titles, is hard to beat. After winning the PGA Championship in 2010 and rising to No. 1 in the world, he went into a long slump before pulling out of it last year. He has two months to get his game into good form, and after last year, he deserves a lot of attention.


Player to watch: Retief Goosen

Goosen looked as if he had wrapped up the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., needing to just two-putt from 12 feet on the final hole of regulation. After missing the first putt by 22 inches, that is all he had left to win. But he pushed that putt past the hole and had to make a longer one just to tie Mark Brooks and get into an 18-hole playoff the next day. The third putt went in and he recovered from the disappointment of not winning in regulation to beat Brooks in the playoff. Goosen won a second U.S. Open title in 2004. He is not exempt for June’s U.S. Open and would have to earn a berth in qualifying.


A most unlikely winner

Francis Ouimet almost turned downed an invitation to play in the 1913 U.S. Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., the course he had grown up caddying at because he had a day job. His employer decided to let him play and Ouimet selected a 10-year-old caddie, Eddie Lowery, who had a foot injury. In perhaps the biggest upset in U.S. Open history, Ouimet beat the British stars and became the first amateur and just the second American to win the championship.


Player to watch: Tiger Woods

He seemed like a lock to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles after he defeated Rocco Mediate in a playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines for his 14th major championship. But here we are seven years later and two things haven’t changed: Woods is still stuck at 14 major championships — with injuries and personal issues contributing to his drought — and he remains golf’s most captivating figure, if not its best player. His tie for 17th at the Masters was a big improvement from his previous form, a great sign for Tiger fans. But win or lose, he’ll have the biggest galleries.


A heartbreaking defeat

Mike Donald and Hale Irwin finished 72 holes of the 1990 championship tied for the lead, so they had an 18-hole playoff the next day. Donald led by two shots after 14 holes of the playoff, but Irwin came back to tie it after 18, sending it to sudden death. Irwin won on the 19th hole of the day. Donald never won on the PGA Tour after that day and had little success. Irwin, who won three U.S. Opens, went on to become the greatest player in Champions Tour history.


Player to watch: Phil Mickelson

The popular lefty has finished second in the championship a record six times and needs to win it to complete a career Grand Slam. In 2006, he held a one-shot lead entering the final hole but recorded a double-bogey and lost by a shot. Last year at Pinehurst No. 2, in his first chance to complete the career Grand Slam, he finished 28th. “I believe in the next five years, I will have three or four good chances, and I do believe I will get it,” he said.