News & ToursJune 21, 2009

Strange major, but hardly the strangest

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - The weather has beaten up this U.S. Open, forcing a rare Monday conclusion. Unusual U.S. Open? No doubt about it. Not your run-of-the-mill major championship? Certainly.

But it's got some company in the odd department. When you consider women's and seniors' majors as well, it might not be in the top 10.

Here's a sampler of five other strange majors:

__1986 U.S. Women's Open, Kettering, Ohio:__Jane Geddes beat Sally Little in a playoff at NCR Country Club. Tournament had it all: Tuesday a tanker train carrying white phosphorous caught fire, forcing an evacuation of 30,000 people. "Is a phosphorous cloud one or two clubs more?" Hollis Stacy quipped. Saturday morning a 4.2 earthquake hit the Dayton area. That afternoon a violent thunderstorm whipped the course, felling trees. The media tent took on water and was hit by an out-of-control motorcycle. Ayako Okamoto was a golf cart that skidded 100 feet on slick grass and went into trees, bruising her.

1999 Tradition, Scottsdale: Senior PGA Tour major was shortened from 72 to 36 holes (Graham Marsh won) after spring snowstorms canceled play two days.

1985 U.S. Open, Birmingham, Mich.: Andy North's second U.S. Open victory came in a week that featured T.C. Chen making the only double-eagle in U.S. Open history and also its most infamous double-hit. The third round was played in persistent rain that never let up. Denis Watson, who shared second place one behind North with Chen and Dave Barr, was penalized two strokes for waiting too long for a ball to fall in the cup.

1987 PGA Championship, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: Searing heat and humidity and chokingly-thick bermuda rough sapped the life out of this one. Arnold Palmer wore sweatbands to deal with the perspiration. Larry Nelson survived to beat Lanny Wadkins in a playoff.

1963 PGA Championship, Dallas, Texas: Another wicked week of heat. Winner Jack Nicklaus had to hold the Wanamaker Trophy at Dallas Athletic Club with a towel in the 100-degree temperatures.

Bill Fields

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