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1983


Larry Nelson

Larry Nelson, 35, played the last 36 holes in 132 strokes - 10 under par- and won by one stroke over Tom Watson, the 1982 Champion. Nelson, from Marietta, Georgia, shot 75-73-65-67 - 280, four under par, at the Oakmont Country Club, in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Nelson's 65 and 67 were the two lowest single rounds of the Championship. His 132 broke the former 36-hole record of 136 set by Gene Sarazen in 1932. It had been matched six times. Watson had 72-70-70-69 - 281.

Gil Morgan, the only other golfer to break par for the Championship, shot 73-72-70-68-283. Calvin Peete and Severiano Ballesteros tied for fourth place at 286. The first round co-leaders at 69, two under par, were Ballesteros, John Mahaffey, and Bob Murphy. Mahaffey won the 1978 PGA Championship at Oakmont. Nelson's opening 75 left him six strokes off the lead. Second-round play was interrupted for two and a half hours by a severe thunderstorm in the early afternoon.

Two spectators, struck by lightning near the second green, were taken to a hospital for treatment and later released. Through it all, Mahaffey managed a 72 and shared the 36-hole lead, at 141, one under par, with Joe Rassett, a first year professional who had posted rounds of 72 and 69. Watson and Raymond Floyd shared third place, at 142. Peete moved into contention with 68 and a total of 143, the same as Ballesteros, who shot 74, and Hal Sutton, with 73-70. Murphy dropped out of contention with 81.

Because of the rain delay, 38 contestants, including Peete, had to complete their second rounds on Saturday morning. Sixty-nine professionals and two amateurs made the 36-hoe cut, at 151, nine over par. Nelson, with 148, made the cut by only three strokes. Six over par as the third round began; Nelson dropped to seven over with a bogey at the third hole. After a par 5 on the fourth, Nelson played the next 14 holes of the third round in seven under par, to finish at 65, and then played the last 18 holes in four under.

By shooting 65 in the third round, Nelson passed all but three men who were ahead of him - Watson, Ballesteros, and Peete. At 54 holes, Ballesteros and Watson were the co-leaders, at 212, on rounds of 69 and 70 respectively. Nelson was out in 33, and although he passed Ballesteros and Peete, he was losing strokes to Watson. Watson, however lost strokes on the 10th and 12th, and Nelson, only one stroke behind by then, caught him with a birdie on the 14th. It was his fifth birdie of the round.

As Nelson was playing the 15th and Watson was playing the 14th, play was suspended because of another thunderstorm. Completion of the final round was carried over to Monday. Play resumed at 10 o'clock with Watson facing a 35-foot putt on the 14th and with Nelson playing his tee shot to the 16th. Watson two-putted for his par 4 and Nelson played his tee shot onto the left side of the 16th green, about 62 feet from the hole. Nelson holed the putt for a birdie 2, and led for the first time. When Nelson three-putted the 18h, Watson missed a five-foot putt for a par on the 17th that would have pulled him even.

Nelson played the final 32 holes in 114 strokes, 11 under par, and the last 27 of these in 99 strokes, seven under. On 16 of the last 32 holes, Nelson's approaches were within 15 feet of the hole, and on nine holes he was within 10 feet of the cup with his shots to the greens. Brad Faxon, a member of the 1983 U.S. Walker Cup Team, received a gold medal as low amateur, with a 302 total.

Arnold Palmer competed in his 31st consecutive Open, dating back to 1953. He tied the record previously set by Gene Sarazen. Palmer had played in the last four Opens held at Oakmont. Prize money reached a record $506,184, with $72,000 going to Nelson. The USGA accepted 5,039 entries.

OPEN RECORDS


Starts - 20

Best Finish - Winner 1983

Rds - 68

Cuts Made - 14

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 3

Top 10 - 3

Top 25 - 8

Avg. - 72.99

Scores In 60s - 11

Rds Under Par - 12

Earnings - $216,626.06
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.