Here we take a look at six players who came out of left field to upset the favourites and become unexpected US Open winners.
The name of 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet barely received a mention in the build up to the 1913 US Open at Brookline in Massachusetts, perhaps a few locals would have recognised him as a former caddy at the club. Most of the attention centred on British professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray who had made the journey across the pond with the express intention of winning the US Open title.
Things looked to be going according to plan, with the two men from Jersey tied for the lead with a round to play. But they had unexpected company at the top of the board from Ouimet. Most expected the more experienced men would blow away the upstart in the final round, but he kept pace and the three were all still tied after 72 holes. An 18-hole playoff would be required to separate them.
Again, the general consensus was that Ouimet had no chance. But, with the assistance of his 10-year-old caddy Eddie Lowery, the young local dispatched the British challengers with something to spare. He fired a fine 72 in the Saturday playoff compared to Vardon’s 77 and Ray’s 78.
1955 – Jack Fleck
With fans favourite Ben Hogan safely in the clubhouse, two clear of little-fancied Jack Fleck, almost everyone had given “The Hawk,” the 1955 US Open title. NBC television finished their coverage before Fleck had completed his round, ending with a shot of Gene Sarazen congratulating Hogan on another US Open title.
But Fleck still had four to play. He birdied the 15th and 18th holes to fire a 67 and tie Hogan at the top. The following day, Fleck beat the great champion in an 18-hole playoff.
For many years after Fleck’s surprise victory at Olympic Club, his triumph was dismissed as a fluke. He was portrayed as a club pro or journeyman, a one-hit-wonder. It’s true he didn’t exactly become a world-beater, but he won twice more on the PGA Tour, recorded 41 top-10s on the circuit and made the cut in 261 of the 271 tournaments he entered.
Fleck drove for 49 hours from his home in Iowa to San Francisco in June 1955. He opened his U.S. Open campaign with a 76, nine shots worse than leader Tommy Bolt. But he bounced back with a 69 to be in contention with two rounds to play. His closing 67 was one of the great Major rounds and his playoff win over the world’s best player was a phenomenal display of ability and self-belief.
1969 – Orville Moody
14-year army veteran Orville Moody came through local and sectional qualifying to earn his place in the 1969 US Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston.
With the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and defending champion Lee Trevino in the field, Moody was hardly considered one of the favourites. The 35-year-old had never won a PGA Tour event.
But after rounds of 71, 70 and 68 “Sarge” as he was called by fellow players because he rose to the rank of Sergeant in the army, was just a shot back of Miller Barber with a round to play.
On the final day, Barber fell away and Moody moved ahead. Despite pressure from a number of players, Moody held on to win by a shot from Deane Beman. The U.S. Open victory was the only PGA Tour title of his career and he remains the last player to win the year’s second Major coming through local and sectional qualifying.
Chipping from thick rough video: