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Fifty years later in USGA's Golf Journal, Reid appraised the unlikely but popular champion. "Here were poise and grace," Reid remembered. "He had charm and flexibility seldom seen. What he lacked in knowledge of golf strokes was overcome by his ability to control and command himself."
At the triumphant conclusion of the Open, no one could control the scene. The crowd, thousands strong, which stewards had attempted to contain with ropes, flags and orders shouted through megaphones, stormed the 18th green after the upset was complete.
"A roar went up which shook the air and rumbled away for miles," the New-York Tribune reported. "Thousands of dripping, rubber-coated spectators massed about Ouimet, who quickly was hoisted to the shoulder of those nearest him while cheer after cheer rang out. Excited women tore bunches of flowers from their bodices and hurled them at the youthful winner, hundreds of men strove to reach him in order to pat him on the back or shake his hand."
Amid the throng was Ouimet's mother, Mary, who after managing to get a word of congratulations to her son, made the short but muddy walk home. Ouimet, Vardon and Ray changed into dry clothes before the trophy ceremony. A hat was passed for Lowery, into which a reported $150 was collected. Ouimet celebrated with a "Horse's Neck," a blend of ginger ale and lemon juice and went out to eat and see a show with a friend that evening.
The vanquished were gracious in defeat. "Mr. Ray and I didn't have a chance to win the championship," Vardon said. "Mr. Ouimet played the most wonderful golf I ever witnessed, and not once did he leave an opening for me to gain in and I was simply trailing along the links with your hero. I do not think I will live long enough to see better golf."
Ray: "I have no hesitation in saying that he played better golf the whole [three] days than any of us."
In a lengthy bylined story in the Sept. 21 Boston Sunday Globe, Ouimet's inherent modesty briefly left him. "[On] the whole I fail to see where our English cousins have very much to teach us, if I may be pardoned in making the statement," he said. "Today, for instance, Ray did not outdrive me to any great extent, and I think I held my own with Vardon in this department. Their midiron and mashie shots are well executed, but what they gained on these they lost on the greens."
Ouimet's achievement, as writer Herbert Warren Wind described it in his 1948 book The Story of American Golf, was a "wholesale therapeutic for American golf," something whose ingredients stirred the country's imagination for the sport, creating more courses and more golfers (nearly a six-fold increase in the latter, to two million, by 1923).
In its Sept. 27 edition, The Chronicle of Brookline wrote: "While we admire his skill in the game, we think the town in particular to be proud of the sand and nerve he showed in his contest with the two great English players. Not merely as a golfer, but as a man, Ouimet has qualities that promise to be the making of an unusual career."
As a man, years later, Ouimet gave the boys who caddied for him a dollar when custom was a third of that. He used a simple, lightweight canvas golf bag, on which he collected autographs of the thousand or so lads who looped for him. He died in 1967 at 74. Upon his death, Arthur Daley of The New York Times wrote: "If he had been old or rich or a British pro, his victory would have supplied no impact." But that wasn't who Ouimet had been. He had been young, of modest means, an American underdog rising to the occasion, the first of only five amateurs to win the U.S. Open.
USGA president Robert Watson hadn't been in Brookline for the playoff. He found out what happened in a phone call. "It's the most wonderful thing that ever happened in the history of golf," Watson said.
A century later, still impressive almost beyond belief, it arguably remains so.