Olympic Club's U.S. Open History

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Olympic Club's U.S. Open History

June 06, 2012

1955

__THE HEAVYWEIGHT__Two years removed from his famed "Hogan Slam," legendary ball-striker Ben Hogan was in the twilight of his career, but he still remained a favorite to win the U.S. Open. In fact, his streak of finishing in the top 10 in 15-straight national championships in which he played wouldn't end until six years later.

1955

__THE CONTENDER__Jack Fleck patterned his entire golf game around Hogan. He even played with Ben Hogan golf clubs, some of which were delivered to him in the locker room that week by his idol. He entered this tournament with zero wins on the PGA Tour.

1955

__THE RESULT__With a record fifth U.S. Open title seemingly in Hogan's grasp, NBC signed off its telecast. But Fleck birdied the final hole to force an 18-hole playoff. The two battled the next day until the 18th hole, where Hogan's foot slipped, causing his tee shot to go well left into high rough. It took Hogan three swings to get the ball back to the fairway. He ended up making a 40-footer for double bogey, but that wasn't enough to prevent one of the biggest upsets in golf history.

1955

__THE EPILOGUE__A crushed Hogan would contend at his favorite tournament a couple more times, but he never won again, staying put at four U.S. Opens and nine majors. Fleck cemented his legacy as one of sport's biggest underdogs by taking nearly five years to win his second tour title. He finished with three for his career.

1966

__THE HEAVYWEIGHT__Arnold Palmer was still the King when he arrived in San Francisco for the '66 Open. Palmer's dashing looks and bold style of play helped make golf a mainstream sport and inspired an "Arnie's Army" of King devotees.

1966

__THE CONTENDER__Billy Casper may never be considered true golf royalty, but he was certainly no slouch. He entered this event with 29 wins and one major -- the 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot -- under his belt.

1966

__THE RESULT__With a seven-shot lead heading to the back nine and with Ben Hogan's U.S. Open scoring record in reach, Palmer continued to play aggressively. It backfired as he shot a 39 to Casper's 32. In the playoff the next day, he held a two-shot lead with nine to play, but a 40 left him four shots short of the steadier Casper.

1966

__THE EPILOGUE__Palmer had a few more close calls, but never won another major. Casper would win a third major at the 1970 Masters, and his 51 career victories are still good for seventh-best ever. Here, the two are pictured together (Palmer, top left; Casper, bottom right) as members of the 1973 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

1987

__THE HEAVYWEIGHT__Five years after winning his fifth British Open title, Tom Watson was still one of the game's biggest names and a winner of the last Bay Area Open, in 1982 at Pebble Beach. Already with eight major championships, a ninth would draw him even with Ben Hogan and Gary Player.

1987

__THE CONTENDER__Native Californian Scott Simpson came in with three PGA Tour wins under his belt, including one earlier in the year in Greensboro. He hadn't had much major success, however, with his only two previous top 10s coming at the PGA Championship.

1987

__THE EPILOGUE__Simpson, playing in the group ahead of Watson, birdied holes 14-16 on Sunday to take the lead. He parred the final two holes for a final-round 68 -- good for a one-shot win over Watson, who narrowly missed birdieing 18 to force a playoff.

1987

__THE EPILOGUE__Simpson would win three more times on tour and contend one more time at the U.S. Open, in 1991 at Hazeltine, where he lost in a playoff to Payne Stewart. As for Watson, he almost got that ninth major in even more stunning fashion. Twenty-two years later at Turnberry (left), the 59-year old held the lead until a bogey on the 72nd hole forced a playoff with Stewart Cink that he eventually lost.

1998

__THE HEAVYWEIGHT__Stewart was a star for both his style and play. He won his first major at the 1989 PGA Championship and added another two years later at the U.S. Open. However, he and his plus fours arrived at Olympic in a drought, with just one win -- the 1995 Shell Houston Open -- since that major victory at Hazeltine.

1998

__THE CONTENDER__The much-less flashy Janzen arrived with some major championship history of his own, having won the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol. And the experience of taking down Payne Stewart in the final group that day certainly didn't hurt him when the two would duel again in San Francisco.

1998

__THE RESULT__Janzen topped Stewart by a shot when Payne's last gasp, a birdie attempt from 25 feet, curled around the cup. Many point to the 12th hole as the difference. There, Stewart found a divot in the middle of the fairway with his drive, missed the green and wound up making a bogey that gave Janzen the lead for good.

1998

__THE EPILOGUE__Janzen hasn't won another PGA Tour event of any kind since this triumph. Of course, Stewart would get his second U.S. Open title the following year at Pinehurst (left) before tragically dying in a plane crash just four months later.

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