Willie Anderson wins his 1st U.S Open
On July 16th, 1901 Scotsman Willie Anderson won the 1st of his total of four U.S. Opens at Myopia Hunt Club. He defeated fellow countryman Alex Smith in the first playoff in U.S. Open history.
Smith had to shoot an 80, the best round of the tournament to get into the playoff with Anderson tied at 331. He narrowly missed a putt on the 18th hole to win outright.
In the playoff, Smith led by five shots with fives holes to play. He went 5-7-5-4 over the next four holes, while Anderson recorded all fours to even up the match. At the 18th, Anderson found the green in two while Smith’s approach landed in the rough. Anderson two-putted for his four, while Smith chipped to four feet (1.2 m) with a chance to tie, but his putt went astray and failed to find the cup. Anderson finished with an 85, a stroke better than Smith.
In 1902, Anderson failed to defend his title and finished tied for fifth. He would go on to win the next three U.S Open’s in 1903, 1904, and 1905 to become the only player in history to win it three times straight. His total of four U.S. Open titles is shared with Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods… a legendary list indeed.
- Smith’s brother Willie, the 1899 champion, finished in third place, two shots out of the playoff.
- Myopia club pro John Joneswas twelfth, then caddied for Anderson during the playoff.
- For the only time in U.S. Open history, no player managed to break 80 in any round.