5 biggest upsets in US Open history

By Doug Ferguson

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 3:10 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this June 19, 1955, file photo, Jack Fleck, of Davenport, La., poses with his championship trophy after beating Ben Hogan, right, by three strokes in an 18 hole playoff in the U.S. Open golf tournament at the Olympic Club, Lake Course, in San Francisco, Calif. Isaac Grainer, president of the U.S. Golf Association, looks on at left. Ben Hogan appeared to have won his record-setting fifth U.S. Open when he closed with a 70 at The Olympic Club in 1955. NBC went off the air and proclaimed him the winner. Still on the golf course was Jack Fleck, a little-known club pro from Iowa who could hit it straight and had figured out his putting. He made the birdie for a 67 that allowed him to catch Hogan and force an 18-hole playoff.

File, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the most famous upsets in golf took place at The Olympic Club. But that wasn't the only one at the U.S. Open.

And it might not have been the biggest.

The U.S. Open often lives up to its name — open — meaning that everyone should have the chance to win golf's second-oldest championship. Every now and then, an "anybody" does just that. It could be a 20-year-old amateur who puts golf on the front pages, an unheralded club pro from Iowa who takes down one of the giants in the game, or even a 35-year-old from the Army who defies the odds.

Here are five of the biggest upsets in golf:

5. STEVE JONES

Steve Jones won four times in a span of 16 months before a dirt bike accident caused joint and ligament damage to his left ring finger, critical for the golf grip, and derailed his career. He missed most of three seasons, but returned in a big way.

First, he won a playoff in sectional qualifying just to get into the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. He opened with a 74, seven shots behind the leaders, and then rallied with a 66 to get back into the hunt. He never went away.

Tom Lehman had a tournament-best 65 in the third round to take the outright lead, and Jones joined him in the last group. For much of the final round, the attention was on Lehman trying to win his first major, and then Davis Love III making a move. Love took bogey on the 17th and had a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that he left 3 feet short. He missed that to make another bogey for a 69.

Lehman, tied for the lead on the 18th, saw his tee shot take a funny hop into the bunker, leaving him no chance to reach the green. Jones two-putted for par, and Lehman missed a 15-foot par putt that would have forced a playoff. Jones became the first U.S. Open champion who had to qualify since Jerry Pate in 1976.

4. SAM PARKS JR.

Sam Parks Jr. was a club pro at nearby South Hills Country Club who had never won a PGA Tour event. He prepared for the 1935 U.S. Open by stopping by Oakmont every day for a month to play a practice round. The preparation paid off.

Oakmont was as severe as ever, and Jimmy Johnson opened with rounds of 73-73 to take the lead. Parks holed a 60-foot chip for eagle in the third round and shot 73 to tie for the lead, with 42-year-old Walter Hagen only three shots back and poised to win his third U.S. Open.

The weather worsened for the last 18 holes, which made scoring so difficult that none of the top 20 players on the leaderboard broke 75. Parks closed with a 76, good enough for a two-shot win over Thomson. Parks was the only player to break 300 at Oakmont.

Hagen also shot a 76, and this turned out to be his last time in serious contention at a major.

Parks never finished in the top 10 at another major.

3. ORVILLE MOODY

Orville Moody was known as "Sarge" because of his Army career. He won the Korean Open three times while in the Army, but there was little to suggest he would become a U.S. Open champion. His best chance at winning came early in 1969 when he lost in a playoff at the Greater Greensboro Open.

He had to go through local and sectional qualifying that year just to get into the U.S. Open at Champions Golf Club in Texas.

Moody was never really in the picture until the last day, when he trailed Miller Barber by three shots. Barber fell apart in the final round, closing with a 78. Sarge was steady and shot 72 to hold off Deane Beman (future PGA Tour commissioner) and a pair of PGA champions in Bob Rosburg and Al Geiberger.

It was the only PGA Tour event that Moody won. He later won 11 times on the Senior Tour.

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