US Open Golf – History, Records & Trends

The world’s finest golfers converge at one of America’s toughest courses in mid-June each year to battle for glory at the US Open. It is the most lucrative major, with a prize purse of US$12.5 million (AU$17.8 million), and it is extremely prestigious, so competition is always fierce.

This US Open guide delves into the tournament’s history and explains how it turned into one of the most important sporting events of the year. We will also round up winner trends from the past decade and show you how to bet on the US Open.


US Open Golf History

The inaugural US Open was held on a nine-hole course at the Newport Country Club in Rhode Island back in 1895. It attracted 10 professionals and one amateur, and they played four rounds in a single day. A 21-year-old Englishman called Horace Rawlins emerged triumphant, earning $150 cash and a gold medal.

British players dominated the tournament during the early years, but teenage sensation John J. McDermott changed all that when he became the first American to win the US Open in 1911. He successfully defended his title in 1912, and fellow Americans Francis Ouimet, Walter Hagen, Jerome Travers and Chick Evans lifted the trophy during the subsequent years.

The US Open did not take place during the First World War. Hagen won the tournament for a second time when it resumed in 1919, prevailing in a playoff against Mike Brady. By that point, it was considered one of the four majors, along with the US Amateur and two British tournaments – The Open Championship and The Amateur Championship.

British players continued to enjoy success in the 1920s, but Americans won it 16 times in a row between 1926 and 1941. It returned in 1946 following a four-year hiatus during the Second World War, and American players continued their dominance until South Africa’s Gary Player finally ended their streak in 1965. He was the first foreign winner since Scotland’s Willie Macfarlane.

The US Open was still a major at that point, along with the Masters, the US PGA Championship and The Open Championship. Homegrown players have maintained their impressive record in the US Open. Since Player’s victory in 1965, only eight other countries have produced US Open winners: Australia, England, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, Germany and Spain.


US Open Legends

These are some of the star players that built up their reputations at the US Open:


Willie Anderson

The Scotsman beat countryman Alex Smith in a playoff to claim his first US Open title in 1901. He could only finish T4 the following year, but he then won the tournament three times in a row from 1903 to 1905. 


Bobby Jones

The 13-time major winner claimed his first US Open victory following a playoff with Bill Cruickshank in 1923. He triumphed again three years later and then he matched Anderson’s record by securing back-to-back victories in 1929 and 1930. Jones went on to design Augusta and found the Masters.


Ben Hogan

Hogan lit up the tournament in the aftermath of World War II. He won it for the first time in 1948, followed by subsequent victories in 1950, 1951 and 1953. He did not compete in 1952, so he is the only player to succeed in three consecutive attempts. Hogan also finished in the top-10 in 10 consecutive attempts, as he went on to finish second in 1955 and 1956.


Jack Nicklaus

The most successful player of all time won four US Open titles during his illustrious career. That leaves him tied with Anderson, Jones and Hogan as the most successful player in the event’s history. He won it in 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1980. Nicklaus also took part in 44 consecutive US Opens between 1957 and 2000, which is a record, while he shares the record for the lowest score for 18 holes.


Tiger Woods

Woods is the most successful player of the modern era in this tournament. He won it in 2000, when he finished a record 15 strokes clear of the chasing pack, and he was successful again in 2002 and 2008.


Brooks Koepka

Koepka became the first back-to-back US Open winner since Curtis Strange in 1988-89 when he won the tournament in 2017 and 2018. He also equalled Rory McIlroy’s record score of -16 in 2017.


Best Australian US Open Golfers

Greg Norman twice finished runner-up at the US Open. The Great White Shark lost to Fuzzy Zoeller in a playoff in 1984, and he finished two strokes behind Corey Pavin in 1995.

More recently, Jason Day has also performed well. He was runner-up to McIlroy in 2011, and he finished T2, one stroke behind winner Justin Rose in 2013.

However, Australia can still claim two US Open champions, which is more than any other country apart from the USA, Britain and South Africa. These Aussies reigned supreme at the US Open:


David Graham

Graham became just the fourth Australian to win a major when he clinched the 1979 US PGA Championship in Michigan. Two years later, he seized glory in the US Open. Graham went into the final day trailing overnight leader George Burns by three strokes, but he shot a final round 67 to finish three clear of his rival.


Geoff Ogilvy

The Adelaide native ended an 11-year major drought for Australia when he stormed to victory in the 2006 US Open. Ogilvy managed to rescue par by holding a 30-foot chip at the 17th on the final day, and he then dropped a downhill six-foot putt on the 18th to finish one stroke ahead of Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Colin Mongomerie.


US Open All-Time Records

  • Most Victories – Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus (4)
  • Most Runner-Up Finishes – Phil Mickelson (6)
  • Oldest Winner – Hale Irwin (aged 45 in 1990)
  • Youngest Winner – John McDermott (aged 19 in 1911)
  • Largest Winning Margin (Tiger Woods, 15 strokes in 2000)
  • Lowest Score – Rory McIlroy (268 in 2011)
  • Most Strokes Under Par – Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka (-16)

US Open Winners 2011-2021

American stars have dominated the US Open over the past decade, but Spaniard Jon Rahm lifted the trophy in 2021, so he will go into this year’s event as the reigning champion.

Year Winner Nationality Score
2021 Jon Rahm Spain 278 (-6)
2020 Bryson DeChambeau USA 274 (-6)
2019 Gary Woodland USA 271 (−13)
2018 Brooks Koepka USA 281 (+1)
2017 Brooks Koepka USA 272 (−16)
2016 Dustin Johnson USA 276 (−4)
2015 Jordan Spieth USA 275 (-5)
2014 Martin Kaymer Germany 271 (–9)
2013 Justin Rose England 281 (+1)
2012 Webb Simpson USA 281 (+1)


US Open Courses


Year Venue Location
2022 The Country Club Brookline, Massachusetts
2021 Torrey Pines Golf Course La Jolla, San Diego, California
2020 Winged Foot Golf Club Mamaroneck, New York
2019 Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, California
2018 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Shinnecock Hills, New York
2017 Erin Hills Erin, Wisconsin
2016 Oakmont Country Club Oakmont, Pennsylvania
2015 Chambers Bay University Place, Washington
2014 Pinehurst Resort, Course 2 Pinehurst, North Carolina
2013 Merion Golf Club, East Course Ardmore, Pennsylvania


US Open Winner Trends

It is helpful to assess winner trends on a tournament such as the Masters, which takes place at the same venue each year. The trends are a little more elusive for the US Open, which is held at a variety of courses. However, all US Open courses are set up to make scoring very difficult, and they generally place a premium on accurate driving.

These winner trends from the past decade can help you narrow down the field:

  • Seven of the last 10 US Open winners were American. Ten US players have also finished second or T2 in the past decade.
  • The remaining three winners were from Europe. The last Southern Hemisphere winner was Ángel Cabrera in 2007.
  • The last 10 US Open winners were inside the top 30 in the world rankings. Six of them were ranked inside the top 10.
  • Each of the last 10 winners had finished in the top eight within his last five PGA Tour events. However, only four of the last 10 champions had previously won in their previous seven appearances.
  • Players that were near the top of the “Greens in Regulation” (GIR) rankings have dominated the US Open in recent years. In 2022, the top five players for GIR percentage are Russell Knox, Jon Rahm, Corey Conners, Cameron Smith and Seamus Power.
  • The US Open has not been held at Brookline since Curtis Strange won in 1988.


US Open Golf Prize Money

The prize money for the US Open is a record $12.5 million, making it the most lucrative major of the year. The winner takes home $2.25 million. Gary Woodland, Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm have all earned that sum since prize money increased in 2019. 


US Open Golf Betting

You can bet on the US Open by visiting TopSport. Just click on the “Sports” option and select “Golf” from the menu.

The US Open is one of the tournaments listed. Click on it to browse a list of betting options. You can click on any of them to add a selection to your betslip. Type in your stake, make a note of your potential return and place a bet on the US Open 2022.