75th United States Open
June 19-22, 1975
Heat, humidity, lightning delays, and rainfall before and during the 75th U.S. Open championship were combined with the challenges presented by Course No.3. After the pressure-packed competition narrowed the field of one hundred fifty, there were eleven players that would move back and forth in contention for the top positions.
All finished within three strokes of each other. Eight of these players, aside from the winner, Lou Graham, could have won the Open on Sunday by shooting a par 71.
Early in the week, Byron Nelson, as a television analyst, predicted, “ Watch for Graham. He’s hitting the ball well and is a good steady player”. Graham had only two wins on the tour, and had tied for 3rd in the 1974 Open at Winged Foot.
In the first round at Medinah, Tom Watson and Pat Fitzsimons tied for the leader position. The next round saw Watson take the lead by 3 strokes. On the third day, it was Frank Beard who took the lead by 3 strokes over Watson and Fitzsimons.
During the final round, Graham checked the scoreboard, and saw that he led Beard by one stroke. He didn’t see John Mahaffey’s score on the bottom of the board because it was hidden by the crowd. Graham thought that he would need only a bogey 5 to beat Beard for the win, however, what was needed was a par 4. Beard bogeyed the 16th and 17th and cleared the way for Graham and Mahaffey. They tied, and the playoff was on for the next day.
Graham, wearing his lucky blue shirt, birdied three of the first 10 holes to lead Mahaffey by 3. As they approached the 18th, they were two strokes apart Mahaffey split the fairway, but Graham hooked a 2-iron shot that landed on well trampled grass in the woods close to being out of bounds.
Later, Graham described overhearing a television commentator’s conversation in which one of them stated that he believed Graham had no shot at the green. Graham said, “I thought to myself, there is no such thing as no shot.” He played the lie, and hit a run-up shot that landed 30 feet from the green.
Mahaffey’s 4-iron shot stopped nine feet from the hole. Graham chipped to within seven feet of the cup. Mahaffey missed his birdie putt, and Graham made par to win the championship.
Tied for third at 288 were Bob Murphy, Hale Irwin, the defending champion; Ben Crenshaw and Frank Beard. Jerry Pate and Jay Haas tied for low amateur.
Played on Course No. 3
Overall Par: 284
Overall Purse: $236,000
Won by Lou Graham: 74 72 68 73 = 287