Until last year, every U.S. Open golf tournament for more than four decades had at least one golfer with close ties to Utah, either a resident or former college player. This week, for the second year in a row, there will be no golfers with Utah ties playing in the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday, June 14, 2012, at the Olympic Club. Here is a look back at five memorable U.S. Open round by golfers with Utah ties.
In 1973 at Oakmont Country Club, 26-year-old Johnny Miller, just a few years out of BYU, came from way behind with a final-round 63 to win his first major. Miller hit all 18 greens in regulation and birdied the first four holes. He had nine birdies on the day to go with one bogey. The 8-under-par 63 remains the best final-round score ever in a major some four decades later.
In the 1966 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Casper trailed Arnold Palmer by seven shots with nine holes to play, only to tie Palmer and force a playoff on Monday with a back-nine 32. In the playoff the next day, Casper shot a 69 to Palmer's 73 to win his second U.S. Open title.
In the third round at the 1987 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, former BYU golfer Keith Clearwater fired a 6-under-par 64, which put him within one shot of the lead and in a final pairing with legendary Tom Watson. Alas, his final round wasn't so good and he ended up in a tie for 31st place.
It got lost in all the hoopla over Tiger Woods' stunning 15-shot victory in the 2000 Open at Pebble Beach, but Richard Zokol turned Pebble Beach on its ear for a two-hour period in the final round. Zokol, who played for BYU's NCAA Championship team in 1981, fired a course-record-tying 30 on the front nine. He birdied holes 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 with three of the putts from longer than 20 feet. He only shot a 39 on the back nine and finished in a tie for 32nd place.
In the 1989 U.S. Open in Rochester, N.Y., St. George native and former Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake fired an opening-round 66 and shared the first-round lead with Payne Stewart and Bernhard Langer. He stayed among the leaders with rounds of 71 and 72 and for one brief shining moment was atop the leaderboard late in the third round. But he faltered in the final round and finished with a 76, seven shots behind winner Curtis Strange.