Southern California has hosted only one U.S. Open, but players that hail from SoCal have had big moments throughout the years. Let’s take a look at some of the best moments in the U.S. Open from Southern California players.
The three-time U.S. Open champion is the greatest player to ever come out of SoCal and he has had his fair share of great moments. Tiger’s major championship record 15-stroke margin of victory in 2000 at Pebble Beach is probably the most impressive U.S. Open moment of all time. For me however, the greatest moment for Tiger Woods was sinking a birdie putt on 18 on Father’s Day at Torrey Pines in 2008 to get into the playoff with Rocco Mediate.
The way the ball hit the edge of the cup and rolled around before dropping in was something you couldn’t even write. Woods’ reaction was even better because it showed the pure excitement and joy that the U.S. Open meant to him.
Unfortunately for Phil Mickelson, great moments have yet to come in the U.S. Open. Phil has still had some moments to remember in the U.S. Open, even if they are not good. Mickelson’s famous tee shot wide left on 18 in 2006 at Winged Foot will be regarded as his best chance to win the U.S. Open. He ended up making a double bogey on the hole and losing. All he had to do was make par on the last to win the U.S. Open by one shot. Easier said than done, but he should’ve been able to get it done.
Corey Pavin was born in Oxnard and his greatest U.S. Open moment was winning it all in 1995 for his only major championship. Pavin defeated Greg Norman by two strokes, among others, at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York. This was also the first U.S. Open that Tiger Woods played in, although he was an amateur at the time.
The greatest moment from Pavin’s victory, was when he famously threw his hands into the air after his 4-wood approach to the 18th green. Pavin raced across the fairway as he followed the flight of the ball and once he saw it land on the green he was beside himself.
The San Bernardino native never won the U.S. Open, but he did come close in 1978 at Cherry Hills. Stockton finished t-2, just one shot behind champion Andy North. Stockton had a chance to send it to a playoff, but missed a par putt on 18 that proved to be the difference.
Billy Casper is a two-time U.S. Open Champion, winning in 1959 and 1966. The 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, was a putting display for the ages put on by Casper. The San Diego native needed only 114 putts over 72 holes to win by a single stroke over Bob Rosburg.
The 1966 U.S. Open was a bit of a different story as Casper defeated Arnold Palmer in an 18 hole playoff. Casper shot a round of one under to defeat Palmer by four strokes and is undoubtedly his best U.S. Open moment.
Like Casper, Gene Littler is a U.S. Open Champion that hails from San Diego. Littler won the 1961 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan. Littler was the only player in the entire field to break par twice over the four rounds and his final score of one over was good enough to defeat Bob Goalby and Doug Sanders by a stroke.