The United States Open Championship is the second oldest of the four Majors, having been first contested on October 4 1895. That first tournament was played on the 9-hole course at the Newport Golf and Country Club in Rhode Island. Ten professionals and one amateur took part in the 36-hole event that was completed in just one day. The winner was the young English pro Horace Rawlins. Rawlins picked up the grand sum of $150 for his victory, also receiving a gold medal, and the honour of having custody of the Open Championship Cup for one year.

In its early years, the competitors were largely made up of American amateur golfers and professionals from the United Kingdom. As a result, the first 15 events were all won by Brits, with Scotsman Willie Anderson the most successful with four wins.

The first native success came in 1911, when John McDermott of Pennsylvania was victorious at the Chicago Golf Club. American players began to dominate the game thereafter, and the popularity of the tournament grew accordingly. A major catalyst for this was the Georgian Amateur Bobby Jones, who won the championship four times in the 1920s.

The surge in popularity led the tournament organisers to charge spectators an entrance fee for the first time in 1924, and this was also the year that sectional qualifying events were introduced, due to the large number of players that were keen to take part. Changes to the tournament have been numerous and regular over the years. The USPGA extended the tournament to 72 holes, played over two days, in 1896, and then over three days in 1926. It was not until 1965 that the current format was introduced, with 18 holes played each day for four days.

Television coverage started in 1954, and has been expanded ever since. A two-tee start was instituted in 2002, and international qualifying sites were introduced for the 2005 US Open, and the winner that year was Michael Campbell, who had entered a sectional qualifier in England.