The Most Grueling U.S. Opens

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The Most Grueling U.S. Opens

June 05, 2012

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Photo By: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Photo By: David Cannon/Getty Images

1935, Oakmont

If you thought Oakmont has only become known as one of golf's toughest tracks in recent years, think again. The Pittsburgh-area layout has always been a grueling test, as backed up by Sam Parks Jr.'s winning score of 15-over par in this particular event. What else do we know about Mr. Parks? Apparently, he liked wearing winter coats in June.

Photo By: AP Photo

1950, Merion

The toughest part about this one? After 72 holes (36 on the final day), Ben Hogan, Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio had to go out for another 18 the next day. Hogan, in severe pain from a life-threatening car accident less than 15 months prior, ultimately prevailed in the grinding 90-hole test to emerge with one of the most famous wins in sports history.

Photo By: AP Photo

1951, Oakland Hills

In what some consider the USGA's first attempt to tweak a course specifically for the U.S. Open, and at a layout that Sam Snead described as "a nightmare," Ben Hogan emerged victorious at seven-over par. Robert Trent Jones was hired to toughen the course and Hogan's words during the trophy ceremony expressed utter satisfaction and relief: "I'm glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees." He then tipped his young caddie a few bucks and told him not to spend it all at one drive-in movie.

Photo By: AP Photo

1958, Southern Hills

With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees in Tulsa all week, the tournament became known as the "Blast Furnace Open." But Southern Hills played just as tough as the surrounding conditions. Tommy Bolt's three-over total of 283 bested Gary Player by four shots and Julius Boros wound up as the only other player in the field not to finish double digits over par. We wonder how many days Player wore black that week.

Photo By: AP Photo

1963, The Country Club (Brookline)

This historic venue produced one of sport's all-time Cinderella stories in 1913 when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old and former caddie at the club, won the U.S. Open. Fifty years later, golf's national championship didn't turn out to be as memorable, but that didn't mean it was any less difficult. Julius Boros, Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit would all finish with a nine-over total of 293 through four rounds. Boros easily won the next day with a 70 in the playoff, his lone round under par of the week. He was then handed the trophy by Ouimet, who wore his snazziest bowtie for the occasion.

Photo By: AP Photo

1964, Congressional

Ken Venturi wound up being the only player in red numbers for the week. But he nearly didn't post a number at all. Venturi came close to withdrawing due to heat exhaustion on a sweltering final day in the D.C. area (The temp was measured at 112 on one green). While the weather is usually toasty during the U.S. Open, it was even harder to deal with when the format called for golfers to play 36 holes on the last day. For both TV purposes, as well as to help avoid a medical emergency, the USGA changed to a four-day tournament beginning the next year.

Photo By: AP Photo

1974, Winged Foot

Was it was a reaction by the USGA to Johnny Miller's final-round 63 at Oakmont the year before? Possibly. Was it a brutal test? Definitely. The cut line wound up being 13 over and Hale Irwin survived with a seven-over total of 287. How difficult was it? The tournament became known as simply, "The Massacre."

Photo By: AP Photo

2004, Shinnecock Hills

Retief Goosen's winning final score of four under is deceiving of how hard the golf course ended up playing. Literally. Thanks to cool and overcast weather early in the week, players took apart the Long Island track on Thursday and Friday. Eleven players headed into the weekend under par, but only two (Goosen and Phil Mickelson) would remain there. In reaction to the easy conditions, the USGA decided to stop watering the course. As a result, the greens, most notably No. 7, started to burn out and played extremely fast (Left, runner-up Phil Mickelson reacts to a shot rolling off the seventh green on Sunday) over the weekend. Said Frank Hannigan, a former USGA executive directer, "It was a great deal embarrassing."

Photo By: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2006, Winged Foot

As in 1974, incredibly thick rough and treacherous A.W. Tillinghast greens made this Mamaroneck, N.Y. layout a formidable challenge all the way to the finishing hole. Mishaps on No. 18 by Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie and most famously, Phil Mickelson (left), left Geoff Ogilvy, who finished at five over, holding the trophy. After being beaten up all week by Winged Foot, Mickelson helped add the knockout blow with questionable decision making on his finishing double bogey. Devastated, he didn't hold back afterward, saying "I am such an idiot."

Photo By: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

2007, Oakmont

We come full circle with another tough test at Oakmont. Johnny Miller may have shot his famous final-round 63 here in 1973, but no one came close to that this time around. At a course whose members pride themselves on its difficulty, the best in the world found out just how hard it can play again. In the end, Angel Cabrera handled the length, high rough and slick greens the best with a four-day total of 285 (+5) to hold off Tiger Woods (left) and Jim Furyk by one. His secret weapon to handle the stress? The pack of cigarettes he appeared to go through on the final few holes.

Photo By: David Cannon/Getty Images

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