US Open in Golf: History, Champions, and How to Watch the 2024 Tournament

Colin McCarthy

US Open In Golf

The US Open in golf stands as one of the most prestigious and challenging tournaments in the sport. Known for its rigorous course setups and emphasis on accuracy, this major championship has a storied history of thrilling finishes and dramatic playoffs.

From its inception, the US Open has pushed golfers to their limits, often resulting in memorable moments that have defined careers.

In the past, ties at the US Open led to grueling 18-hole playoffs, and in some cases, sudden-death showdowns.

Notably, the tournament advanced to sudden-death three times, with the most recent in 2008 when Tiger Woods triumphed over Rocco Mediate.

This commitment to intense competition underscores the US Open’s reputation for high stakes and unyielding pressure, making it a true test of skill and endurance.

History of the US Open in Golf

The US Open is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf championships in the world.

Here’s a brief history of the tournament:

Key Milestones and Champions

The US Open, inaugurated in 1895, has grown into one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments. The first winner, Horace Rawlins, won $150 at Newport Country Club. Over the decades, several iconic moments and champions have defined the tournament.

  • 1900s: In 1913, amateur Francis Ouimet defeated top British professionals, cementing the US Open’s status on the world stage.
  • 1960s: Arnold Palmer’s dramatic comeback in 1960 at Cherry Hills added to the lore.
  • 2000s: Tiger Woods’ 15-stroke victory in 2000 at Pebble Beach remains unparalleled.

Notable champions include:

  • Retief Goosen: Winner of the 2001 and 2004 events, showcasing composure and skill.
  • Rory McIlroy: Dominated in 2011, finishing 16 under par, setting an Open record.

Evolution of the Tournament Format

Initially, the US Open featured 36 holes of stroke play in one day. The format evolved to 72 holes over four days to test endurance and skill.

  • 1954: Introduction of an 18-hole playoff for ties, making for memorable duels.
  • 2018: Shifted to a two-hole aggregate playoff, prioritizing resolution without extensive delays.

Qualification Process

The qualification process for the US Open in golf has evolved over time but generally follows a set of criteria to ensure a competitive field while allowing opportunities for a diverse range of players to participate.

Here’s an overview of the typical qualification process:

Direct Entries and Exemptions

The USGA allows certain players to enter the US Open directly through exemptions. These exemptions include past champions, top finishers from recent majors, and high-ranking players from around the world.

Players exempt from qualifying have demonstrated exceptional performance, providing them an automatic berth.

For example, this category includes winners of the US Open in the past ten years, the top ten finishers from the previous year, and the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of two specified cutoff dates.

Local and Final Stages

For players not directly exempt, the qualification process involves two key stages: local and final stages. Local qualifying entails an 18-hole competition held at over 100 courses across the United States.

Approximately 8,880 entrants vie for around 530 spots in the final stage. Players successful in local qualifying then proceed to the final qualifying stage.

Final qualifying involves one-day, 36-hole events conducted at 13 sites. These sites are strategically situated both in the US and internationally, making it accessible for golfers worldwide.

About 780 competitors participate in this stage to secure their place in the US Open. Historically, players such as Lucas Glover, who won at Bethpage in 2009, have highlighted the significance of succeeding through these grueling qualification rounds.

Prize and Records

The US Open in golf offers a substantial purse, and the tournament has seen numerous records set and broken over its long history.

Here’s an overview:

Overview of Prize Money

The US Open in golf offers substantial prize money, reflecting its status as one of the four major championships. In 2005, the total purse was $6.25 million, with the winner, Michael Campbell from New Zealand, earning $1.17 million.

By 2007, the purse increased to $7 million, with the winner’s share also growing. Tiger Woods, the victor in 2007, took home $1.26 million.

More recently, in 2021, the total purse reached $12.5 million, with the champion’s share at $2.25 million. This trend of increasing prize money demonstrates the rising prestige and financial rewards associated with the US Open.

Notable Records and Achievements

The US Open has seen many remarkable records and achievements. In 1984, Fuzzy Zoeller set a precedent by winning after an 18-hole playoff, ending with a total score of 276.

Ángel Cabrera from Argentina won in 2007 with a score of 285, achieving victory by one stroke. Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both missed a chance to clinch the title at Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course in Mamaroneck, New York, during the 2006 US Open, finishing closely behind the winner.

Tiger Woods, an iconic figure, secured multiple US Open titles, including a memorable win in 2000 at Pebble Beach with a record-breaking 15-stroke margin.

Jim Furyk also made his mark in history by winning the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields, establishing himself as one of the consistent performers in major tournaments.

These records and achievements underscore the high level of competition and the extraordinary skills exhibited in the US Open.

Signature Courses and Locations

The US Open in golf is renowned for being hosted at some of the most iconic and challenging courses in the United States.

Here are some signature courses and locations that have played host to this prestigious tournament:

Most Memorable US Open Venues

The US Open in golf has graced some of the most iconic courses in the world, each with its distinct challenges and historical significance.

Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, known for its deep bunkers and lightning-fast greens, has hosted the tournament nine times.

Another legendary venue, Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, is famous for its treacherous rough and challenging layout, having hosted six US Opens.

Pebble Beach Golf Links in California, renowned for its breathtaking coastal views and tough course, has seen six US Opens, including Tiger Woods’ remarkable 15-stroke victory in 2000.

Future Sites and What to Expect

Future US Open venues promise to uphold the tournament’s reputation for challenging the world’s best golfers.

The tournament will return to iconic courses like Torrey Pines in California, which last hosted the event in 2008 when Tiger Woods famously clinched victory with an injured leg. Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, known for its crowned greens and strategic layout, will also host future contests.

Expect these venues to provide both stunning backdrops and the rigorous conditions synonymous with the US Open, ensuring that each tournament remains a true test of skill and endurance.

Broadcasting and Coverage

The US Open in golf receives extensive broadcasting and coverage, allowing fans from around the world to experience the tournament.

Here’s an overview of how the event is typically broadcasted and covered:

Media Coverage Through the Years

NBCUniversal holds domestic television rights to the US Open, providing coverage on NBC, USA Network, and the Peacock streaming service.

Before 2020, Fox Sports had the exclusive rights from 2015 to 2026, which they acquired in a 12-year deal with the USGA. Due to scheduling conflicts in 2020, NBC acquired the remaining seven years of this contract.

Starting with the 2022 tournament, early-round cable coverage moved from Golf Channel to USA Network, making it more accessible.

This shift improved viewership across diverse platforms, ensuring fans didn’t miss any action. Historically, broadcasters have evolved to meet audience needs, integrating streaming services to complement traditional TV coverage.

How to Watch the US Open

Fans can watch the US Open using multiple platforms provided by NBCUniversal. NBC offers live broadcasts of key rounds, while USA Network carries early-round coverage since 2022, previously handled by Golf Channel.

Peacock streaming service allows round-the-clock access to live and on-demand content, making it easier for fans to stay updated.

International viewers have dedicated broadcasters depending on their location, ensuring global reach for the tournament.

Accessibility improvements include mobile apps and websites for live streaming, catering to varying viewer preferences. By utilizing these platforms, fans worldwide can follow the US Open with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has an amateur ever won the US Open?

Yes, five amateurs have won the US Open eight times in history. Notable winners include Francis Ouimet (1913), Bobby Jones (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930), and John Goodman (1933).

How many sets do you play in the US Open?

In men’s singles, matches are played in a best-of-five-sets format. Women’s singles and men’s and women’s doubles matches are played in a best-of-three-sets format.

Are cell phones allowed at the US Open golf?

Cell phones are allowed but calls should be made in areas away from play. Photography, video, and audio recording are allowed if not used for commercial purposes.

Where are the next 5 US Opens?

The US Open will be held at iconic venues including Torrey Pines, Pinehurst No. 2, and other top courses. Specific dates and locations are announced annually by the USGA.

Is there an entry fee for the US Open golf tournament?

Yes, the entry fee is $200 (as of 2019). Entry forms are available on the USGA website under the “Championships” tab by selecting the “Apply to Play” option.


The US Open in golf remains a prestigious and demanding event that continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Its storied history and celebrated champions highlight the tournament’s significance in the golfing world.

The challenging courses and rigorous qualification process ensure that only the best compete for the substantial prize money.

With enhanced broadcasting and coverage options, fans can easily follow the action, whether through traditional TV or modern streaming services.

The US Open’s global accessibility guarantees that golf enthusiasts everywhere can experience the excitement and drama of this iconic tournament.

In addition, advancements in technology have brought new ways for enthusiasts to analyze player performance and course stats in real-time. This adds a deeper layer of engagement for dedicated fans.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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