The typical US Open set-up suits a certain type of player, but some of golf’s most likely candidates have forever remained US Open bridesmaids
Over the years, there have been many players for whom the title of ‘US Open bridesmaids’ has never needed to be used. On the contrary, the US Open seemed to bring out the very best in them and offer them the greatest chance of Major success.
Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus each claimed four titles; Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods three. From the late 1970 onwards, Andy North, Curtis Strange, Ernie Els, Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart and Retief Goosen each rose to the occasion twice.
But for some, although the US Open promised much, they were never quite able to get it across the line, and when you’re looking at US Open bridesmaids or nearly men, there is, of course, only one place to start…
The US Open’s undisputed chief bridesmaid has given some away, and had others snatched away by the brilliance of others.
In 1999, a stellar finish by Payne Stewart kept Mickelson at bay. In 2002 at Bethpage, he could never quite get close enough to apply any real pressure to Tiger Woods.
A three-putt double bogey on the 71st hole allowed Retief Goosen to sneak back past him in 2004, while an awful final-hole drive in 2006 led to another double bogey that would ultimately hand the title to Geoff Ogilvy.
His second Bethpage US Open runner-up finish came in 2009, with Lucas Glover’s exceptional second-round 64 creating enough of a cushion, while in 2013, he entered the final-round at Merion with a one-shot lead, only to falter on Sunday as Justin Rose surged home.
Will Phil ever win his national Open? We’re going to stick our necks out and say yes, and with this year’s host venue, Chambers Bay, clearly favouring a short-game magician, this year is as good as any.
Sam Snead – four-time runner-up (37, 47, 49, 53)
Despite seven other Majors, like Mickelson, Slammin’ Sammy could never quite land his national title, again sometimes through carelessness, sometimes through the brilliance of others.
In 1937 at Oakland Hills – in the days before on-course scoring – a spectator mistakenly told him he needed a final-hole birdie when par would have been enough. He racked up a triple bogey to lose by two to Ralph Guldhahl.
In 1947’s play-off, he contrived to miss a 30in putt on the final hole to lose to Lew Worsham.
In 1949 he needed to birdie the last to tie Cary Middlecoff, but missed the green and had to scramble for par, while in 1953, Snead entered the final round just one adrift of Ben Hogan, but stumbled to a 76 leaving The Hawk to win by six.
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With Augusta and The Open Championship courses never really suiting his ball flight, The US Open and USPGA definitely offered Monty his best chance of Major success.
His first brush with the US Open came in 1992 at Pebble Beach when Jack Nicklaus awarded him the trophy from the commentary booth after a final-round 70 in an ever-worsening breeze.
But Jack was wrong as Tom Kite produced a weather-defying round to claim his one and only Major. Monty ended up 3rd.
In 1994, a final-round 70 gave Monty a play-off spot alongside Ernie Els and Loren Roberts, but three double bogeys in the first 11 holes put paid to his chances. A costly second-round 76 in 1997 proved the difference between himself and Els once more.
Then in 2006, with his potential Major-winning years seemingly behind him, Monty found himself 7-iron distance from the 72nd green after a perfect drive, with the title in his grasp.
As we all know, he struck it poorly, chipped long and three-putted for a double bogey to help gift the title to Geoff Ogilvy. Monty has, at least, won three Senior Majors since that fateful Winged Foot day nine years ago.
Michael Thompson – 2012 runner-up
Okay, neither a well-known name, nor a prolific performer, but clearly an Olympic Club specialist.
When Thompson popped up out of nowhere to finish second to Webb Simpson in 2012, it completed his set of USGA Olympic Club runner-up finishes, for he had also lost out at the same venue in the 2007 US Amateur final to Colt Knost.