There are courses that produce great champions. There are courses that produce great major champions. And then there is Oakmont. No golf course has seen more U.S. Open history than Oakmont. This year's Open will be the ninth in its history, and nearly every one of them has produced an all-time historic winner.
Oakmont has hosted the most U.S. Opens of any course in the world (eight) just ahead of Baltusrol (seven) and Oakland Hills (six). Let's take a look all the way back at the first Open at Oakmont in 1927 and bring you forward to the current day to look at what kind of players win big time tournaments at this course.
Tommy Armour wins with a score of 13 over (1927). Just 23 years after it opened for play, Oakmont hosted its first Open. Armour beat Harry Cooper in an 18-hole playoff that year after shooting 78-71-76-76 in the first four rounds. That's right, the first U.S. Open champion at Oakmont dropped a 301 for the victory. Bobby Jones finished T11 at 21 over. Armour did not lay up in the playoff and sank a 50-foot par putt on No. 15 essentially for the win. The lesson, as always, is to never lay up.
Sam Parks Jr. wins with a score of 11 over (1935). Parks was a club pro from Pittsburgh (and college golfer at Pitt) who took down some of the biggest names in the sport at their own game. His best score that week was 73. When he took the trophy all he said was "local boy makes good."
Ben Hogan wins the second of three majors (1953). Hogan played in three majors that year. He won all of them. He didn't play in the PGA Championship because it overlapped with the British Open (which he played in for the only time in his career ... and won). He was the only golfer under par that year at Oakmont at 5 under and beat runner up Sam Snead by six.
Jack Nicklaus beats Arnold Palmer in a playoff (1962). Maybe the most famous of all the Opens at Oakmont. Palmer was the beloved homegrown son of Pennsylvania. Nicklaus was the upstart kid looking for his first major. Nicklaus took him down in an 18-hole playoff in which Palmer suggested beforehand they split the ticket revenue from their Monday round (common practice in that day). Nicklaus said no and took it to him in the playoff to take home all the money.
Johnny Miller shoots 63 to win Open (1973). Possibly the most famous round in major championship history. Miller said recently that it won him a major is what makes it great.
"That's why it was voted the greatest round," Miller told ESPN. "There have been 59s shot, I shot several 61s in my career. But to shoot 63 at Oakmont on the last day to win by one is what makes the round what it is."
Larry Nelson cracks par to win (1983). Only 23 golfers in the eight Opens here have ever broken par. Nelson was one of three in 1983 after making a 60-footer on the 16th hole for birdie to get to 5 under and beat Gil Morgan and Tom Watson.
Ernie Els wins in a playoff (1994). Els made bogey at the last but outlasted poor Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts in a playoff that actually went 20 holes between Els and Roberts even after Els was 4 over through two holes. Eight of the 23 under-par performances occurred this year.
Angel Cabrera takes down Tiger Woods (2007). Woods missed (gasp!) a birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have taken Cabrera to a playoff. El Pato shot a 1-under 69 in the final round and was the only player in the field to break 70 twice on the week (it only happened eight times all week).