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1975


Lou Graham

Lou Graham, 37, defeated John Mahaffey, 27, in an 18-hole playoff over the No 3 Course of the Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois after both men scored three-over-par 287s in regulation play. Graham shot 71 in the playoff and Mahaffey shot 73. Bob Murphy, Frank Beard, Ben Crenshaw and Hale Irwin, the 1974 Champion tied for third with 288. Graham could have won outright with a par 4 on the 72nd hole, but after a perfectly placed tee shot in center fairway he hit his 6-iron approach into a greenside bunker and made 5, dropping him into a tie with Mahaffey, who had already finished.

In the playoff Graham sent ahead by scoring a birdie on the fourth hole, and he was never caught. He extended his lead to three strokes after the 10th hole and still led by two with one hole to play. On the 18th, however, Graham hooked his tee shot into the left rough creating the possibility of a tie if he lost a stroke to par and Mahaffey birdied the hole. Graham, however, played a low 4-iron to the edge of the green and saved par, winning by two strokes. Pat Fitzsimons, with a hole-in-one on the 187-yard second and Tom Watson shared the first day lead with 67s. Jim Wiechers was a stroke behind in third place, while Arnold Palmer, Lanny Wadkins, Grier Jones and Peter Oosterhuis, were tied for fourth at 69.

Eight players were under par and seven others matched it. Graham shot 74 to stand seven strokes back of the leaders, while Mahaffey had 73. Play of the second round was interrupted by an electrical storm. When it resumed Tom Watson shot 68 which, coupled with his opening 67, put him in the lead by three strokes over Ben Crenshaw, who also scored 68. Watson's total of 135 equaled the 36-hole record first set by Mike Souchak in 1960 and equaled by Bert Yancey in 1968. Fitzsimons was third at 140 with 67-73. Jim Wiechers shot 73 and was tied for fourth at 141 with Terry Dill (72-69) and Lee Trevino (72-69).

Graham, meanwhile, shot 72 and was 11 strokes behind. Mahaffey stood at 144. Eleven players had sub-par rounds and ten others were at even par for the day. In the third round, Frank Beard shot 67 and climbed from a tie for tenth place after 36 holes into a three-stroke lead after 54 with 210. Fitzsimons and Watson were tied for second 213. Lou Graham shot one of the day's four sub-par rounds and moved into a tie for fourth t 214 with Peter Oosterhuis and Crenshaw. Mahaffey was at 216 tied for tenth place. In the final round, Beard shot 78 and fell into a tie for third place with Bob Murphy, Crenshaw and Irwin.

Beard lost his chance when he bogeyed 17 and 18 and Crenshaw fell back by scoring 5 on the 17th - a par 3 hole. Jack Nicklaus lost a stroke on each of the last three holes and finished two strokes behind at 289. Prize money totaled $235,700; Graham received $40,000 and Mahaffey $20,000. The entry of 4,214 was the second largest in Open history. Attendance for the Championship proper reached 97,345 setting a new record, while the playoff, on a Monday, was viewed by 6,246.

OPEN RECORDS


Starts - 21

Best Finish - Winner 1975

Rds - 71

Cuts Made - 14

Top 3 - 3

Top 5 - 3

Top 10 - 3

Top 25 - 6

Avg. - 74.37

Scores In 60s - 4

Rds Under Par - 5

Earnings - $94,401.90
Historical Notes
On Oct. 4, 1895, the first U.S. Open Championship was conducted by the United States Golf Association on the nine-hole course of Newport (R.I.) Golf and Country Club.
The first U.S. Open was considered something of a sideshow to the first U.S. Amateur, which was played on the same course and during the same week. Both championships had been scheduled for September but were postponed because of a conflict with a more established Newport sports spectacle, the America's Cup yacht races.
Ten professionals and one amateur started in the 36-hole competition, which was four trips around the Newport course in one day. The surprise winner was Horace Rawlins, 21, an English professional who was the assistant at the host course. Rawlins scored 91-82-173 with the gutta-percha ball.
Prize money totalled $335, of which Rawlins won the $150 first prize. He also received a gold medal and custody of the Open Championship Cup for his club for one year.
In its first decade, the U.S. Open was conducted for amateurs and the largely British wave of immigrant golf professionals coming to the United States.
As American players began to dominate the game, the U.S. Open evolved into an important world golf championship. Young John J. McDermott became the first native-born American winner in 1911 and repeated as champion in 1912.
In 1913, the U.S. Open really took off when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old American amateur, stunned the golf world by defeating famous English professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in a playoff.
Another surge in the championship's popularity coincided with the amazing career of Georgia amateur Bob Jones, who won the U.S. Open four times (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930). Spectator tickets were sold for the first time in 1922 and a boom in entries caused the USGA to introduce sectional qualifying in 1924.
In 1933, John Goodman became the fifth and last amateur to win the U.S. Open. The others were Ouimet, Jerome D. Travers (1915), Charles Evans Jr., (1916), and Jones.
In each era, the world's greatest players have been identified by surviving the rigorous examination provided by the U.S. Open. Ben Hogan's steely determination boosted him to four victories (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953). Arnold Palmer's record comeback win in 1960, when he fired a final round of 65 to come from seven strokes off the lead, cemented his dashing image. Jack Nicklaus' historic assault on the professional record book began when he won the first of his four U.S. Open Championships in 1962, his rookie season as a professional.
Nicklaus, who also won in 1967, 1972, and 1980, is one of only four golfers to win four U.S. Opens. The others are Willie Anderson (1901, 1903, 1904, 1905), Jones and Hogan.
In 1954, the U.S. Open course was roped from tee to green for the first time. That year also marked the first national television coverage. Coverage was expanded by ABC Sports in 1977 so that all 18 holes of the final two rounds were broadcast live. In 1982, on the ESPN cable network, the first two rounds were broadcast live for the first time. NBC began televising the U.S. Open in 1995.
The format of the U.S. Open has changed several times. The USGA extended the championship to 72 holes in 1898, with 36 holes played on each of two days. In 1926, the format was changed to 18 holes played each of two days, then 36 holes on the third day. In 1965, the present format of four 18-hole daily rounds was implemented for the first time.
In 2002, a two-tee (Nos. 1 and 10) start was used for the first and second rounds. In addition, Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., was the first facility owned by the public to host a U.S. Open. International qualifying sites were added in 2005 and the champion at Pinehurst Resort in N.C. was Michael Campbell, who qualified in England.