Scioto Country Club

Scioto Country Club Golf Tournaments


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1926 U.S. Open

The Open Comes to Scioto
July 8-10, 1926


1926fullsize.jpg George Sargent, Scioto's head golf professional from 1919 to 1932, was invited to attend an Executive Committee meeting of the United States Golf Association on October 29, 1925 and it was at this meeting that Scioto Country Club was awarded the 1926 U.S. Open Championship. Not only was Sargent a previous winner of the U.S. Open, in 1909 at Englewood, he also served as President of the PGA of America from 1921-1926 and his considerable influence helped pave the way for Scioto to secure the country's most important annual golf event.

While just 10 years old in 1926, the young Donald Ross designed layout was ready to host the world's best players. The rough was high and the fairways were firm and fast. A record 694 players tried to qualify for championship play and the final field was set at 147 starters, with 18 holes to be played on July 8 and 9 and then the 62 low scorers playing 36 holes on July 10.

The pre-tournament hype all centered on 24 year-old Bobby Jones of Atlanta, for Jones had just won the British Open Championship two weeks earlier. No one had ever won both Open Championships in the same year and all eyes were on young Jones to see if he could accomplish this feat.

 

Day One

The USGA used the same starting times for both July 8 and 9 and on each day the early players had a decided advantage. Hot July weather prevailed and an afternoon wind came up each day making the scoring conditions much tougher on those with the afternoon tee times.

The leader after one day of play was Wild Bill Melhorn, the flamboyant Texan who had gone out early and posted a 68. Though Bob Jones got the worst of it with a late starting time, he nevertheless fashioned a fine 70 to sit just two off the pace tied for second place. Also positioned well at 71 was Joe Turnesa and Al Espinosa. Will MacFarlane, the defending champion, was also in the hunt with 72 as was Leo Diegel.


LEADERBOARD after round one: 

Bill Melhorn 68
Bobby Jones 70
John Junor 70
Joe Turnesa 71
Al Espinosa 71
Leo Deigel 72
Willie MacFarlane 72


Day Two


One a day when scoring would prove most difficult, Bill Melhorn still held on to the lead despite a second round 75 for a 143 total. Joe Trunesa was hot on Melhorn's heals with a 74 for 145 to trail by two shots. With large galleries following Jones in the afternoon, the young Georgian skied to a 79, calling a one stroke penalty on himself on the 15th green when the ball moved and finishing with two three-putt greens.

Scioto had proved to be a real challenge with former Open Champions Fred McLeod, Jim Barnes and Jock Hutchinson all missing the cut. In all, 62 players advanced to the final day, with 58 eventually finishing.


LEADERBOARD after round two:

Bill Melhorn

68-75-143

Joe Turnesa

71-75-145

Dan Williams

72-74-146

Leo Diegel

72-76-148

George McLean

74-74-148

Bobby Jones

70-79-149

Jack Forrester

76-73-149

Walter Hagen

73-77-150

Al Espinosa

71-79-150

Chick Evans

75-75-150

Willie MacFarlane

72-79-151


Final Day


On a hot and muggy July 10 the third round began. First and second round leader Bill Melhorn started to wilt under the heat and pressure, carding a 76 for a 219 total. Joe Turnesa fired a 72 for a 217 total to take the lead by two shots. But Bob Jones, who had been quite sick before teeing off, managed a fine 71 and 220 score to put himself right back in contention.

The leaders going into round four were:

Joe Turnesa

71-74-72-217

Bill Melhorn

68-75-76-219

Bobby Jones

70-79-71-220

After the lunch break, Melhorn faded further and Turnesa increased his lead to four shots with Jones, his closest pursuer. Turnesa was playing two groups in front of Jones and when Turnesa bogeyed the 12th hole and Jones birdied it, the lead was now just two strokes. With a gallery estimated to number 10,000, Turnesa could hear the roars from behind and he bogeyed the 13th, 16th and 17th before finishing withal closing birdie and 294 total. Jones knew he would need to birdie the (then) par 5 18th hole to win and newspaper accounts credited Jones with 310 yard tee shot, into the wind, followed by a brilliantly struck long iron to 18-20 feet of the hole. A two-putt birdie ensued and Bobby Jones became the first man in golf history to win both the U.S. and British Opens in the same year.


1931 Ryder Cup
Scioto Hosts 1931 Ryder Cup
June 26-27, 1931


1931Fullsize.jpg The PGA of America set the dates for the third Ryder Cup competition, a true "rubber match" with both sides having scored a victory, for June 26 and 27, 1931. With the U.S. Open scheduled for Inverness in Toledo the following week, Scioto officials formally invited the PGA in the fall of 1930 to host the matches and on November 24, 1930, the PGA notified the club that Scioto would indeed be awarded the 3rd Ryder Cup Matches.

For the second time in only five years Scioto Country Club would be in the center of the golfing world stage. With various qualifying events and exhibitions, there was a great deal of interest that spanned a 10 day period.

The highlight of the Ryder Cup week was a gala banquet held at Columbus' finest hotel, the Neil House, on the eve of the matches. Some 200 PGA pros were there as part of a PGA convention. Both teams were in attendance as were various dignitaries, including boxing champion Jack Dempsey and Grand Slam golfer Bobby Jones. The competition was ready to begin!

The Teams


The Americans were determined to win back the Cup they had lost at Moortown in 1929 and the PGA chose the first six players to represent the U.S.-they were, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Al Espinosa, Johnny Farrell, and Leo Diegel. The remaining four spots would be filled from 13 players competing in a special qualifying event at Scioto.

On Monday June 22, these 13 hopefuls played 36 holes with the low six players advancing to another 36 hole qualifier the next day. Billy Burke, who would win the next week at Inverness, Wiffy Cox and Craig Wood made the team after Tuesday but it took another day and another 18 holes to determine the final player for the U.S. team-Denny Shute.

While the U.S. team had a straightforward, albeit rigorous, method of selecting its team, the British were have a controversial and terrible time of it. Two of its star players, Percy Alliss and Aubrey Boomer, had obtained club jobs outside of Britain and were deemed ineligible. Herbert Jolly, who had qualified for the team, pulled out at the last minute citing recent poor playing. And finally, Henry Cotton, another qualifier, had made his own travel arrangements and refused to abide by team rules which called for splitting exhibition revenue equally. So he sat out the matches too.

Nevertheless the British team was formidable anchored by former Open Champions Arthur Havers and George Duncan. Archie Compston, William Davies, Syd Easterbrook, Bert Hodson, Abe Mitchell, Fred Robson and Charles and Ernest Whitcombe rounded out the team.


Day One-Foursomes


Playing conditions for the first day of action in the 1931 Ryder Cup were remarkably similar to those when Scioto hosted the 1926 U.S. Open. Despite a temperature that approached 100 degrees, the course still had plenty of thick rough. Though a little wind and rain accompanied play in the morning of the foursome matches, the British were unaccustomed to such heat and their heavy wool clothes added to their discomfort.

The format for the first day of competition would be four 36-hole matches with two players to a side playing alternate shots. The winning team would score one point for its side.

The U.S. team got off to a quick start. The pairing of Gene Sarazen and Johhny Farrell overwhelmed Archie Compston and William Davies and Walter Hagen and Denny Shute rolled over the two Open champions Duncan and Havers. Abe Mitchell and Fred Robson got the British on the board with a close 3 and 1 win over Leo Diegel and Al Espinosa but when Billy Burke and Wiffy Cox closed out Syd Easterbrook and Ernest Whitcombe, the U.S. had a 3-1 lead going into the singles matches the next day.


Final Day- Singles Matches


Another very hot day greeted the golfers for the 36 hole singles matches and the U.S. quickly stretched it's lead to 5-1 when Billy Burke and Gene Sarazen both whipped their opponents by 7 and 6.

William Davies beat Johnny Farrell to narrow the gap to 5-2 but shortly thereafter, Wiffy Cox beat Abe Mitchell to make it 6-2 and Walter Hagen scored the clinching point for the U.S. team by defeating Charles Whitcombe 4 and 3. Denny Shute and Al Espinosa both won their matches of the U.S. and the final point for Great Britain came from and Arthur Havers victory in the final match.

Final score, 9-3, U.S. over Great Britain and Ireland.


Gene Sarazen's Greatest Shot


Golf fans are constantly told that Gene Sarazan's greatest golf shot was the one "heard around the world" - the famous four wood to the 15th green at Augusta National Golf Club for a double eagle in the 1935 Masters Tournament.

But according to Sarazen himself, his greatest shot occurred here at Scioto in his singles match against Fred Robson in the 1931 Ryder Cup. What is undisputed is that Gene's tee shot on the par three fourth hole wound up in the in the shelter/concession stand beyond the green. After moving boxes and cartons and finding his ball, the thought he could play it off the concrete floor and play it he did - right through a window and onto the green.

The stories about whether or not he made the putt differ from several accounts, but he did go on to win the match 7 and 6!

1950 PGA Championship
PGA Championship
June 21-27, 1950

Then Mayor, Jim Rhodes, was instrumental in bringing the 32nd PGA Championship to Scioto Country Club in June, 1950. Scioto hosted a field of 109 golfers on it's 7,032 yard, par 72 layout. The field was whittled to 64 after a 36 hole qualifier on Wednesday and Thursday. The PGA was still a match play tournament in 1950 (it would change to medal in 1958 on cries of "Remember Scioto"). A purse of $40,000 was offered to the players with a first place prize of $3,500. The charitable sponsors of the tournament were the mayors favorite organizations: the Columbus Zoo and the Columbus Boys Club.

Slammin' Sammy Snead was the defending PGA champion and leading money winner. Ben Hogan, still recovering from his 1949 auto-bus accident, and exhausted from his U.S. Open victory at Merion earlier in the month, passed up the Championship at Scioto. Other notables were Lloyd Mangrum, 1946 Open champion and runner-up to Hogan at the 1950 Open, Jimmy Demaret, Jim Ferrier, two-time PGA champion Denny Shute, and George Fazio.

 On the first day of play, the defending champion Snead squeaked by Sam Byrd 1-up. Snead's defense came to a screeching end that afternoon when Eddie Burke rolled in a 30 foot chip for eagle on the 18th green(then a par 5). After the first day, the matches were 36 holes played in a morning-afternoon format.

Days 2 & 3


Snead's exit from the tournament set up what everyone thought would be a Mangrum-Demaret semi-final in the lower half of the draw. The Open runner-up blew Chick Harbert out 6&5 in the third round after shooting 66 in the morning round and a 32 on the front side in the afternoon. Mangrum had only to get by relative unknown Chandler Harper to make it to the semi-finals.

In the top half of the draw, Henry Picard, winner of the 1938 Masters and 1939 PGA, had dominated his matches, beating Johnny Palmer in the quarter-finals 10&8. Picard, now 43 and head pro at Cleveland Canterbury, suffered from severe arthritis and played in the tournament only because of an invitation from former assistant pro, now Scioto's head professional: Jack Grout. The seven day grind in the central Ohio heat would catch up with Picard in the semi-finals against club pro Henry Williams. Six down with eight holes to play, Williams won six of the next seven holes to square the match coming to the 36th hole. Both players birdied eighteen to send the match into overtime. Both Williams and Picard parred the first hold but Picard three-putted the second for a bogey to hand the match to Williams.

Trailing by two after the morning quarter-final against Harper, Lloyd Mangrum would describe Harper: "God gawdamighty, what a putter!" Harper extended his lead to four after 20 holes only to let Mangrum square the match on the 30th hole. On the par 3 17th, with the match still square, Mangrum hit his tee shot to within 12 feet, only to have Harper hit it to six feet. Mangrum missed his birdie putt and Harper converted to take a 1 up lead to eighteen. Harper made a 10 foot birdie at the last to take the match.


Days 4 & 5


Most spectators felt that Jimmy Demaret, the last touring pro in the field, would make short work of the public course pro from Portsmout, Virginia. Harper's hot putter was not to be denied and he upset Demaret 2&1.

The Harper-Williams final was not exactly the dream of the the PGA organizers- two club pros duking it out on a Tuesday in front of only 2,000 spectators in the morning and 4,000 in the afternoon. Harper, 36 years old, shot an unspectacular 75 in the morning to Williams' 79 and closed his opponent out 4 and 3 in the afternoon to become the oldest PGA champion and the second Virginian in a row to win the Championship. Less sensitive about his receding hairline than Snead, Harper exclaimed at the trophy ceremony "I'm going to do something that Sam Snead would never do, I'm taking off my hat!"

Low scores were typical at the 1950 PGA causing one magazine to comment "perhaps never again will PGA spectators see so much sub-par golf in a single week". Dave Douglas shot a seven under 65 in a practice round to set the unofficial course record, equaled in 1968 by Vinnie Giles a the the U.S. Amateur. Finally, few people recognized Henry Picard's young assistant from Canterbury who dutifully followed his boss around Scioto that week, and who was unaware of his future at Scioto Country Club: Walker Inman.

1968 U.S. Amateur
U.S. Amateur Championship
August 28-31, 1968

1968fullsize.jpg Of all the championships played at Scioto, the 1968 U.S. Amateur might have been played on the most difficult golf course. The greens were very firm, almost too hard and the rough was typically thick USGA rough making shots to the green virtually impossible to hold. The course was set up as a par 70, with the eighth playing as a 465 yard par 4. The field of 150 was full of collegians: Bruce Fleisher, Tom Watson, Hubert Green, Lanny Wadkins, Andy North, Doug Tewell, Leonard Thompson, Rod Curl, Barry Jaeckel and Jim Simon, as well as well-known amateurs Michael Bonallack, the British Amateur Champion, Dale Morey, Jack Hesler, Vinnie Giles and Gary Cowan, Canadian Amateur champion.

Nineteen year old Bruce Fleisher, a surprise winner of the National Junior College Championship earlier in 1968, brought a personality seldom seen at USGA events of the time. "Broads, great broads are all over the place. Broads about drove me crazy." remarked Fleisher after one round. Donning white tape around his wrist ( "for the fans") and fringed, tightly-fitted golf pants ( "it's the Florida look"), Bruce Fleisher backed up his attitude with solid golf, firing 73-70 to share the lead after two rounds with Southern Amateur champion from Florida State, Hubert Green.

Fleisher took a two stroke lead after the third day with a 71-214. Green shot 73 to finish at 216. Many players were critical of the USGA's set-up of Scioto, especially the conversion of number 8 from a 510 yard par 5 to a 450 yard par 4. Said 1964 Amateur champion Bill Campbell, "The way they have set it up now, it is a U.S. Open course- a pro-type course- and we're all amateurs." Of all the rounds played during the tournament, only five were under par.


The final day began with Giles (220) six back of Fleisher. Giles cut the lead to four shots, birdieing the par three ninth, to shoot a front-side 32 to Fleisher's 34. The lead was cut to three when Giles birdied eleven and valuable birdie putts were barley missed by Giles at fourteen and fifteen. Fleisher stumbled at fifteen with a bogey and watched Giles trickle his birdie putt in at seventeen. His lead was now down to one stroke.

Fleisher hit an amazing 9-iron over the willow trees from the rough at sixteen and two-putted for par. Giles ripped his second iron shot at the flag on eighteen, only to see the ball fall some 35 feet short of the cup. His two-putt for a competive course record 65 gave him a 285 total.

Fleisher stood on the eighteenth tee with a one stroke lead. His drive was right down the middle and second shot to within 15 feet. A two-putt gave him his 70 and an Amateur record 284.

"I feel great!" grinned the new champion in his checked slacks with their frayed bottoms. "I was more nervous yesterday than today, but I was a wee bit nervous on that second shot on 18 - and on the first putt."


1986 U.S. Senior Open
U.S. Senior Open Championship
June 23-29, 1986


1986fullsize.jpg The 7th U.S. Senior Open Championship came to Scioto riding a wave or popularity for senior golf. Some 1225 golfers attempted to qualify for 89 open spots, ultimately creating a field of 150 pros and amateurs. Scioto held one of the 34 sectional qualifiers in which host pro Walker Inman and perennial club champion Jack Hesler figured to have a natural edge on the other qualifiers. Both shot 77's and were placed in a six-man playoff for the one available spot.

Hesler drove into the bunker left of the first fairway with Inman right down the middle. Jack Hesler hit a phenomenal shot to within two feet while Inman knocked his to five feet left of the hole. The club champ cashed his birdie putt to claim the 150th position. Walker went on to beat pro George Bayer on three to become the first alternate. When Sam Snead pulled out on the eve of the Open, head pro and Scioto favorite Walker Inman was in.

The Senior Open was full of prominent players from the past, many of whom were ecstatic about competing for purses that far exceeded what they earned in the 60's and 70's. They were also happy to leave the competition on the PGA Tour to the younger "flatbellies". Gary Player, Jim Ferree, defending champ Miller Barber, Harold Henning, Peter Thomson, Bruce Crampton, and the legendary Arnold Palmer brought their "A" games to a spectacular Scioto Country Club in June, 1986. Dale Douglass, having turned 50 in March came to Scioto with a first, second and first place finishes from his three most recent Tour events.

 
Day One & Two

On a perfect-for-scoring day June day, Douglass opened the championship with a 66 making a string of birdies on holes 6-10. Douglass bogied the 18th to miss tying Vinnie Giles' course record 65 at the 1968 U.S. Amateur. He held a two-shot lead over Lee Elder (68) and three over Ken Still, Jim Feree and Jim Hatchfield, all at 69. Benign weather conditions enable 10 golfers to extract sub-par rounds on the par 71 course. Walker Inman shot a disappointing 75 while Jack Hesler carded a 79.

A gusting southwest wind toughened the Scioto course on the second day for virtually everyone except one pro: Walker Inman. Scioto's pro shot a 67 to pull within four shots of Douglass' 36-hole lead at 138. Douglass shot a 72 in round two to hold a three shot lead over Ferree and Still. Inman joined Henning, Workman, and Crampton at 142. Unfortunately, the Cinderella ride of Jack Hesler came to end after the second round as a 76-155 total missed the cut by two shots. Arnold Palmer barely made the cut at 152, giving the weekend ticket sales a much-needed shot in the arm.


Day Three & Four

The popular Gary Player lit up Scioto on the third day of play with an impressive 66 for a three round total of 210. Dale Douglass widened his margin to four shots with a 68. His 206 total led Henning and Ferree who kept their Open hopes alive at 212. Walker Inman's hopes unraveled on Saturday with a 77.

Sunday's finale was essential a dual between Douglass and the holder of 9 major championships, Gary Player. By the time the players had reached fifteen, Player had cut Douglass' lead to one. Douglass had a buried lie in the greenside bunker while Player's second shot rested comfortably 20 feet from the hole. Player's attempt for three caught the lip of the cup and spun past six feet. As Player stood over his putt for par, a screech of tires from a nearby auto accident forced him to back off and re-focus. He missed the par putt and a chance to even the match. Douglass made a wonderful sand shot and canned the putt to widen the lead to two strokes.

Player bogied sixteen from the sand while Douglass made par and the championship was effectively over. Player birdied seventeen, Douglass bogied eighteen and Dale Douglass limped in with a 73-279 to Player's 70-280. Douglass' total set a new Senior Open record, by 3 strokes. Player expressed bitter disappointment later, "If I make two pars with 9-irons (15 & 16), I win the tournament. There are no excuses. I hit bum shots". Dale Douglass pocketed the winner's check for $42,500 and his first national championship. Scioto's own, Walker Inman, recovered on Sunday with a 72 to finish at 291 twelve strokes back of Douglass- still a great performance from a man whose priorities were taking care of his members, running a pro shop and hosting a major USGA championship.


2016 U.S. Senior Open
U.S. Senior Open Championship
August 11-15th, 2016


Round 1

Though rain had threatened several times in the preceding days, Mother Nature seemed to be on Scioto’s side, and the opening round of the championship on August 11 was sunny, but muggy, and it would be sweltering in the afternoon each of the first two days. Ohio State product Brian Mogg had the honor of hitting the first tee shot at 7:30 a.m. off the No. 1 tee. He piped it. I was nervous, but it was a cool kind of nervous,” he said.

 

Also cool in the heat was three-time major winner Vijay Singh. Since he competes primarily on the PGA Tour, his appearance was a welcome shot of star power. The strong Fijian took advantage of the softer morning conditions to fire a 4-under 66 with five birdies and one bogey to take a two-shot lead.

 

At one point mid-morning there were seventeen players under par. But only eight in the wave would complete eighteen holes in red figures, with Jeff Gallagher, Michael Allen, and Miguel Angel Jimenez two strokes behind Singh with 68s, and Michael Bradley, Ian Woosnam, Takeshi Sakiyama, and former U.S. Amateur champion Scott Verplank adding 69s. As the temperatures rose throughout the day, so did the scores. Singh wasn’t the least bit surprised, noting that Scioto could host a tournament on the regular tour.

 

You can hold anything here,” he said. Going out there on a regular tour event or even a U.S. Open, obviously, the greens … they could make the greens a lot faster and firmer, but this is a really good test of golf. If anybody has any complaint about this golf course, he must be off his head.”

 

The first-round scoring average was 75.3078.


Round 2

At 7:30 a.m. Friday, as the second round was commencing, the thermometer read 83 degrees. The heat index once again crossed the 100 boundary just past noon. The morning wave clearly enjoyed an advantage, and, sure enough, the leader after thirty-six holes was a player who got to post an early number and then head for air-conditioned comfort.

 

Following a 1-under 69 with a brilliant 66, Joey Sindelar, playing with fellow Buckeyes Rod Spittle and John Cook, moved out front with a 5-under 135 total, two ahead of Gene Sauers and three clear of rookie Billy Mayfair, who had turned fifty on the Saturday before the championship and had put together the cleanest golf, suffering just one bogey. They were the only three players with two rounds under par.

 

Sindelar, fifty-eight, was halfway to becoming the third Ohio State player to win the U.S. Senior Open. The others were Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. The healthy crowd was loving it. Well, I’ve never been unconvinced that that many people in your corner, as the four of us have witnessed this week, cannot somehow kind of talk you into what might happen,” an ebullient Sindelar said, noting the support he and his fellow Buckeyes had been receiving.

 

That support would carry Mogg and Spittle to the weekend, but Cook fell shy by a stroke after missing a three-foot par putt on the ninth for 73-148. Sixty-three players made the cut of 147. Only one amateur among the twenty-three in the field made the cut as Chip Lutz, three-time Senior British Amateur champion, shot one of the two sub-par rounds of the afternoon, a 69. That was six better than first-round leader Singh, who struggled to a 75. Overall scoring was slightly improved as the field averaged 74.9319, but there were just ten scores in red figures. Just seven players were under par after two rounds.


Round 3

Minding the threat of thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and evening, the USGA moved tee times forward and sent players off both tees again instead of using a one-tee start as is typical on the weekend. The first times were 7:45 a.m., and the lead trio of Sindelar, Sauers, and Mayfair embarked at 9:30. It couldn’t have unfolded more perfectly as a gully washer hit as that trio was on the 17th green. It came and went quickly and they were able to finish before precipitation increased.

 

It became the guest that wouldn’t leave.

 

But the most unwelcome visitor, at least to the players, was a gusting wind that conspired with a tough setup and greens approaching 13 on the Stimpmeter to send scores soaring. Sindelar and Mayfair were the leaders most affected. The former shot 77 while the latter salvaged a 75 after an opening double bogey. The leader after fifty-four holes was a familiar figure, Spain’s Jimenez, who had led going into the final round of the previous two PGA Tour Champions events, including the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie eventually won by Paul Broadhurst. With the wind gusting to twenty-five miles per hour, Jimenez powered his way to a 69, one of just four scores to better par. David Frost was the low man with a 68.

 

Seeking to become the first player from Spain to win a USGA event, Jimenez, fifty-three, stood at 3-under 207, while Sauers managed to hang tough with a 71 and 208 aggregate score thanks mainly to a fifty-foot birdie putt from off the green at 17.

 

Tied for third at 1-over par were Mayfair, Ian Woosnam (70), and Loren Roberts (70). But the day was more about mayhem than magic. The wind was sending some shots twenty-thirty yards off line. The setup was difficult too. Some tees were back, like at eight, 17 and 18, stretching the course to 7,098 yards. The result was real carnage to scorecards. Former PGA champions Jeff Sluman and Mark Brooks shot 80, while another PGA winner, Bob Tway, had 79. Fred Funk, the 2009 U.S. Senior Open champion, who had been slowed for weeks by a nagging back injury, struggled to 81. You hit it bad today and it was a continual struggle just to make bogeys,” he said. And Singh carded his second straight 75 to fall well off the pace after holding the first-round lead.

 

Then there was Tom Watson. A month shy of sixty-seven, he was in the hunt through two rounds with 72-70, but struggled to an 82, the highest score of the day and the highest he ever shot in the championship—by four strokes. That’s right, one of the finest wind players in the annals of golf was 12-over par. Of course, Bobby Jones had that 79 in the second round of the 1926 U.S. Open. And Arnold Palmer had his troubles at Scioto, too. Scioto can take down the greatest players.

 

The scoring average of 73.9421 suggested it was the easiest day, but that was misleading with just four rounds under par. Another indication of the difficulty was the fact that Jimenez’ 3-under total represented the highest score leading the U.S. Senior Open at fifty-four holes since 2001 when Isao Aoki was 2 under at Salem Country Club.


Round 4

After nearly forty-five hours and 2.85 inches of rain, the championship finally resumed at 11:30 a.m. Monday. The weather that just missed the players at the end of round three—and had missed the course for most of the week—thundered overhead with a vengeance on Saturday afternoon. Play was scheduled to resume at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, but dangerous conditions (potential for lightning) kept players firmly planted in the dining room, where many waited out the delay by following on television the conclusion of the men’s Olympic golf competition from Rio.

 

No golf was played on Sunday, though the USGA had intentions of at least getting out there for a few hours. It never happened, however, even as the grounds crew worked feverishly to make the course playable. USGA historian Mike Trostel said that his research indicated that it would be the first Monday finish in U.S. Senior Open history that was not due to a playoff. There were four playoffs that ended on Mondays: in 1981, 1983, 1988, and 1991, the latter won by Jack Nicklaus, which would make the 2016 edition the first Monday finish of any kind in the championship in twenty-five years.

 

The good news was that FOX promised to cover the final round to conclusion on FS1 starting at 9 a.m. The bad news was that when 9 a.m. arrived, Joe Buck and Paul Azinger welcomed viewers from the women’s locker room, where FOX had set up its studio. Another front was bearing down on Scioto, one with more rain and winds that could reach sixty miles per hour. Players had to scurry back into the locker room. The course was cleared, and the Media Center on the east end of the driving range was evacuated.

 

The forecast looked bleak. Two players, Fred Funk and Kirk Triplett, withdrew after this last delay, leaving the field with sixty players. (Kenny Perry had withdrawn after nine holes in round 3 with a bad back.) Funk’s departure created what was believed to be the first foursome in a USGA championship stroke-play event. Funk was scheduled to play in a twosome with Japan’s Kyoshi Murota, going off last on No. 10. The USGA moved Murota up to play with Watson, Mogg, and Mark Calcavecchia. Scioto made history again.

 

Luckily, a window materialized. The high winds whistled on by north of the club, and a hazy sunshine prevailed. Golf commenced at 11:30, though Bob Becker’s crew continued to squeegee fairways after play began. Allowing for the moisture throughout the course, the USGA altered the setup, shaving 132 yards off the setup it planned for Sunday.

 

With the 11th hole playing as a drivable par-4 of 288 yards—which only Michael Allen eagled with driver and an eight-foot putt—there was potential for a player to pick up perhaps four strokes to par on 11 and 12. No one took advantage. As the leaders made the turn, Sauers and Jimenez were still the only players under par. Allen, thanks to his eagle, Woosnam, and Mayfair would join them, albeit briefly.

 

Sindelar went out in 2-under 33 without a bogey to make a last push, but he could only par 11 and 12, the second with a disheartening 3-putt from forty-five feet. When he chopped up 13 to suffer a double-bogey 6, his bid was done. He ended up tied for eleventh.

 

Sauers, runner-up two years earlier, only to lose to Colin Montgomerie in a playoff, retained a one-stroke lead when he converted from four feet for birdie at the 12th while Jimenez birdied from two feet after a superb bunker shot. Meanwhile, Mayfair was insinuating himself into the storyline. When he drilled a sixteen-footer for birdie at the par-4 15th, he was 2-under par and only two behind. He would miss birdie tries on each of the last three holes for 67 and 278, the best seventy-two-hole aggregate in Scioto history. At least for a half-hour.

 

Behind him, Jimenez had regained the lead with a twenty-foot birdie at the 15th while Sauers was lucky to make bogey, converting an eight-footer to stay within a shot. It would stay that way until Jimenez bogeyed the 17th from the back bunker to fall into a tie with Sauers at -3. So it all came down to 18. Just like 1926. Just like 1968. Douglass in 1986 at least had the luxury of a two-stroke cushion.

 

Both men drove poorly, with Sauers duck hooking well left, a break because it ended up in an area mostly flattened by spectators. He had 229 to the hole and managed to get a 3-iron on the ball and send it to the right front fringe. Jimenez found a terrible lie 190 yards from the flagstick, but he could only gouge it into the right greenside bunker. Woosnam, meanwhile, who didn’t seem to be in the mix, found the green hole high, twenty-five feet from a birdie and a potential tie if both of his partners bogeyed.

 

Sauers played first and skidded his shot to five feet below the hole. Jimenez nearly flew his bunker shot into the hole, but it was too strong and went twelve feet by. Woosnam putted first and left his attempt an inch shy and on the left. Par. Jimenez next, and as he stood over his putt, a bell tolled in the background ominously. It was 6 p.m. He never got the attempt on line. Bogey. A miss by Sauers and there would be a three-man three-hole aggregate playoff followed by sudden death if there were still a tie.

 

So much was riding on the par putt for Sauers. There was the disappointment of two years ago. More significantly, it was a miracle he was even playing. Five years ago he had spent seven weeks in the hospital and was given only a 25 percent chance of survival after having an adverse reaction to medication for psoriatic arthritis that seized him in 2008 and contracting a rare skin disorder, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Having missed several chances coming home, the putt seemed like fifty feet. Somehow, he guided it home. He raised his arms with relief etched on his face. The time was 6:02 p.m.

 

Sauers, fifty-three, of Savannah, Georgia, joined Roberto De Vicenzo (1980), Weiskopf (1995), Don Pooley (2002), Peter Jacobsen (2004), and Olin Browne (2011) as players making the U.S. Senior Open their first senior victory. With a closing 69, he finished at 3-under 277, the lowest winning score at Scioto but the highest winning score in the championship since Fleisher’s 1-under effort at Salem Country Club in 2001.

 

It’s been a long time for me. I didn’t touch a club for seven years. It had been so long since I won. I thank the Lord for saving my life.” Sauers said at the trophy presentation on the 18th green. Later, he would reveal how appropriate a winner he truly was by thanking Jack Nicklaus and calling him his mentor of sorts.

 

He’s my idol,” Sauers said. I learned the game reading his book Golf My Way. So that’s why he’s kind of my mentor. He is for all of us pros.”

 

If that didn’t seem poetic enough, consider that Sauers, a native of Savannah, Georgia, perhaps had a little Scioto mystique working in his favor. The club had had nothing but American winners in its history, including the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1931. Jimenez, who had played so beautifully, bogeyed the last two holes for 71 and a 278 total, tied with Mayfair for second place. It’s golf. But, damn it, I wanted to win,” he said.

 

And if all this didn’t register on the shiver meter, consider this: In the four USGA stroke-play events at Scioto, the winner triumphed by a single stroke. Indeed. Golf at Scioto, where not only do Americans flourish, but they do so by the thinnest of margins. In the four USGA stroke-play events at the Donald Ross-designed layout, all four winners triumphed by one shot.