Major Championships

2012 - 39th Ryder Cup Matches

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The Golf Channel broadcasters immediately called it "The Miracle at Medinah’’

No question Team Europe’s 14½ -13½ win over the United States at the 39th Ryder Cup will add to the club’s rich golf history. In fact, this chapter may go to the top of the list – ahead of the three U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships played on the No. 3 course.

The final-day comeback put on by the Europeans will be much discussed for years to come. Was it "a miracle’’ by the Europeans or "a meltdown’’ by the Americans? Who knows, but in reality it was a bit of both. Trailing 10-6 after the two days of team matches, Team Europe needed a dominating performance in the 12 singles matches and got it. The U.S. came back from a similar deficit to win at Brookline in 1999, but that comeback was staged on home soil. Pulling it off as the visiting team trumps that.

"We put who we thought were our hot players up front, and who we thought were our steady players in back,’’ said U.S. Captain Davis Love III. "They came back and won. Give them credit. They played very, very well.’’

Luke Donald, in the rare position of being a hometown hero playing for the visiting team, started Europe’s comeback by whipping Bubba Watson 2 & 1. Wins by Ian Poulter, the individual star of this Ryder Cup with a 4-0-0 record; Rory McElroy, Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie followed. The first five matches went Europe’s way. Suddenly it was a dogfight.

The U.S. lead at the start of the day might have seemed insurmountable to some – but it obviously wasn’t.

"We just felt we had that tiny little chance,’’ said Poulter. "And do you know what? The boys made history.’’ And it was Poulter who did more than any other to make it happen. "I’m officially taking two years off. I’ll see you at the next one,’’ said Poulter. He was kidding, of course, at the moment there is no better Ryder Cup player than Poulter.

McIlroy won after arriving at the course only 10 minutes before his tee time, for some reason thinking the time on his cellphone meant he had an extra hour to get to the course. "I’ve never been so worried getting to the golf course before,’’ he said. "Luckily there was a state trooper who gave me an escort. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten here in time.’’

Though he had virtually no warm-up time, McIlroy was able to cool off Keegan Bradley, winning 2 and 1. Rose rolled in pressure putts on the last three holes – 12 feet to halve No. 16, 35 feet to win No. 17 and a 12-foot clincher for birdie at No. 18 – to beat Phil Mickelson. Lawrie, at 43, the oldest player on Europe’s roster, won decisively over Brandt Snedeker.

European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal said the comeback started at a team meeting after Saturday’s matches. That’s when he reminded his players about the spirit of the late Seve Ballesteros.

"Seve will always be present with this team,’’ said Olazabal. "He was a big factor for this event for the European side, and last night when we were having that meeting I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing. And I think they did.’’

It was anybody’s Ryder Cup going into the last two matches, Martin Kaymer vs. Steve Stricker and Francesco Molinari vs. Tiger Woods. Stricker and Woods were partners in the team matches and went 0-3-0. They were barely more productive in singles, Woods getting a half-point after the Ryder Cup was already assured of returning to Europe. He missed a three-foot par putt on the 18th that would have created a 14-14 draw, even though Europe would still have retained possession of the Ryder Cup. Six of the 12 singles matches went to the 18th, and the U.S. won only one (Jason Dufner).

Kaymer, the only player on either team to play just once in the team matches, took a 1-up lead when Stricker three-putted at No. 17. Stricker needed to win the 18th to keep U.S. hopes alive, but he couldn’t do it. Kaymer hit the green with his second shot from a fairway bunker. Both hit poor lag putts from long range, and Kaymer connected from six feet for his par after Stricker had made his from eight feet.

In 1991, to conclude a dramatic competition in which the U.S. rebounded from the same deficit that Europe was now facing, German golfer Bernhard Langer had a clinching putt from about the same distance that fellow countryman Martin Kayer was facing.

In ‘91 Langer missed his crucial putt, but Kaymer’s putt found the hole- keeping the Ryder Cup in Europe’s possession.

Thats when the celebration ERUPTED!

"It was a feeling I never had before,’’ said Kaymer. "On Friday I sat down with Bernhard and talked a little bit about the Ryder Cup because my attitude wasn’t the right one. But now I know how important the Ryder Cup is.’’

Europe has won the biennial competition seven of the last nine times.

"This is for all of Europe,’’ said Olazabal, who broke into tears when Kaymer’s last putt dropped. "The first two days nothing went our way. We struggled on the greens and (on Saturday) that changed a little. We started to make a few putts and the Americans just started to miss them.’’ That’s when the "Spirit of Seve’’ kicked in. The image of the late Seve Ballesteros, an inspirational player and captain of a winning European side in 1997, was emblazoned on the European golf bags.

"Seve was with us the whole day, and he helped us. We did this for him,’’ said fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, one of Europe’s winners in singles.

"Ian’s hot streak at the end (on Saturday) gave them some confidence, and they built on that,’’ said Love. "Once those guys got the momentum, it was tough. We had a lot of matches get flipped late. A lot of our guys didn’t lose. They got beat.’’

"It was a huge comeback, and I’m really happy for these 12 wonderful men,’’ Olazabal said of his team.

"This is the most special and unique tournament we have, period,’’ said McIlroy. "To bring this group of guys together, to all play for the same cause, we win together, we lose together.

"But luckily, the last two Ryder Cups we’ve won together.’’

2006 - 88th PGA Championship

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Expectations for the 88th PGA Championship at Medinah were high.

  • Golf Digest ranked the club as the 15th best in the United States
  • Golf Digest ranked Course No.3 as 1st among the Chicago area courses
  • 93 of the world’s top 100 golfers - far more than in any major tournament held that year—were eager to test the Rees Jones re-design of Course
  • No.3. It had re-opened in 2003 at 7,561 yards, par 72, and the Medinah membership and staff had been preparing for the championship for two and a half years

Tournament Re-Cap

In his practice round, and fresh from his win at the British Open, Tiger Woods shot a 5 under par 67. For the opening round, he was paired with Phil Mickelson, the defending champion and winner of the Masters. They tied with Geoff Ogilvy, the U.S.Open winner, with a 69, yet trailed Lucas Glover and Chris Riley by three strokes.

Rain during the night softened the greens for the second round. Tim Herron, Luke Donald, Billy Andrade and Henrick Stenson all tied with a 67. Tiger Woods was one stroke back. On Saturday, his score of 65 put him in a tie with Luke Donald for the lead at 14 under. At that time, Tiger Woods was considered to be one of golf’s greatest front-runners. He had held or tied the lead in eleven previous majors. Sergio Garcia was just 4 strokes behind. His fans continued to pay their respects to "Sergio’s tree" down the hill from the 16th green where he had hit an almost impossible shot during the 1999 PGA Championship.

For the final round, Tiger Woods was paired with Luke Donald –both wore red shirts. Donald with his background as a part-time resident of Evanston, possibly for a brief time, became an adopted Chicagoan to new fans looking for a winner with hometown connections. The gallery cheered him on with chants of "Luuke- Luuke". Of course, Tiger Woods had his own faithful crowd who were waiting for another spectacular finish. His birdie putt on the first hole, and his 4 under finish on the front nine, set the stage for what was to come.

However, Shaun Micheel, hoping to repeat his 2003 win of the PGA Championship, began to possibly challenge Tiger. With his birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, Micheel was 14 under. Then, on the final hole he hit his tee shot into heavy rough for a bogey that gave him second place, 5 strokes behind Woods. Tiger had only 3 bogies in the entire tournament.

Tiger Woods won the tournament with a 270, 18 under par. Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, and Luke Donald tied for third with 12 under par. Eighteen under par is impressive, but Medinah’s Course No.3, "the monster," did take its toll. After Friday’s round, many of the world’s top players went home. They included two-time champion, Vijay Singh, past champions John Daly and Nick Price; the 2005 U.S. Open Champion, Michael Campbell, and Ryder Cup team members, Colin Montgomerie and Scott Verplank. Fred Couples and Jesper Parnevik did not make the cut.

1999 - 81st PGA Championship

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Tournament Re-Cap

Medinah’s Course No.3 at 7,401 yards was the second-longest course played in major tournament history. The names on the leader board represented golfdom’s greats, past, present, and future. There was Hale Irwin at age fifty-four, and Sergio Garcia, age nineteen, and Tiger Woods, at age twenty-four, was somewhere in between. Tiger was favored to win; yet an unknown teenager from Spain would challenge him for the Wanamaker Trophy and the admiration of the gallery spectators.

Weather conditions for the event were less than favorable. Rain softened the course for the beginning of the first round. There was a forty-seven minute lightning delay. The scoreboard was filled with the names of players scoring below par 72. Sergio Garcia tied the course record with a 6 under 66. Jay Haas, Mike Weir and J. P. Hayes were 4 under, and five others 3 under. It rained again for Friday’s round. Jay Haas took the lead after shooting a 9 under 67. Mike Weir came in with an 8 under to take the second spot. Tiger Woods made just one par with 5 birdies and a bogey on the first seven holes. This put him two back in third place. Lee Westwood scored a 6 under. Skip Kendall’s 65 was a course record for a major event at Medinah. He shared fifth place honors that day with Hale Irwin, Sergio Garcia, and Stewart Cink.

On Saturday, the sun came out, and Tiger Woods made 3 straight birdies on he front nine and carded a 4 under par 68 for a tie with Mike Weir. Garcia, the youngest PGA participant since Gene Sarazen in 1921, shot a bogey free 68 that tied him with Cink for second.

Of Note

45,000 fans came through the gate for the final round, and many would be standing fifty deep to watch Tiger Woods win the tournament. To do this, he had built up a 6 shot lead by the time he played the par 57th hole. As the pressure mounted, the last thirty-five minutes of the event became a virtual duel between Woods and Garcia. On the 13th hole, Garcia completed at tricky downhill putt for a birdie 2, and then turned and gestured at Woods, expressing a silent challenge. That confrontation had the crowd cheering, "Sergio-Sergio," and the rivalry began.

Tiger’s lead was dwindling, bogey on 12, double bogey on 13 and bogey on 16. On the 16th, Garcia was presented with an almost unplayable lie at the foot of a tree. He seemed to close his eyes and hit the ball 189 yards onto the green. Garcia’s bold shot and his youthful enthusiasm as he jumped and ran to the green further endeared him to his new fans.

However, the challenge may have energized Woods. He saved a par on the 17th, and again made par on the 18th to overcome Garcia’s threat by one stroke. Tiger Woods ‘winning score was an 11 under par 277. Soon after this win, at age 24, he became the youngest winner of a career grand slam.

1990 - 90th U.S. Open

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The 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah was record setting

  • At 45 years and 15 days, Hale Irwin became the oldest winner of the U.S. Open
  • Hale Irwin won the first sudden death playoff in U.S. Open history
  • A record 39 under-par rounds in the first round and 47 in the second
  • A total of 28 players finished the tournament under-par, a new U.S. Open record
  • Course No.3 was the then longest ever played in the history of the U.S. Open
  • A record number of 6,198 entrants competed for the 156 player spots

Tournament Re-Cap

Two days of rain soaked the par 72 championship course, contributing to a record number of sub-par scores. During the 1949 and 1975 Opens at Medinah, the best scores were two over and three over par. Pressure was on Curtis Strange to win his third consecutive Open Championship, but it was Tim Simpson, Scott Simpson, and Jeff Suliman that tied with 66 for a course record for the first round. Mike Donald, Mark Brooks, Billy Ray Brown, and Hale Irwin also broke par, however, the top five playing in the 1990 PGA Tour, Greg Norman, Payne Stewart, Mark Calcavecchia, Paul Azinger, and Fred Couples could only make par.

At the end of the second round, the leaders were Tim Simpson, Jeff Suliman and Mike Donald. Hale Irwin was tied with Scott Simpson for fifth. David Duval, age eighteen, was even at 144, and Phil Mickelson, twenty years old and two-time defending NCAA Champion, was one over at 145. He would be low amateur for the tournament.

Mike Donald and Billy Ray Brown, former NCAA Champion playing in his first U.S. Open, were tied for first at the close of the third round. Hale Irwin shot a 74 and was then tied for 20th. The players to watch were Hale Irwin and Greg Norman. By the time they reached the 18th hole, Norman had lost his chance to be among the leaders. Hale Irwin was looking at a forty-five foot, uphill, downhill, left breaking birdie putt. He nailed it, to create one of the all time great moments in U.S. Open history. However, he had to wait with his 8 under par for twenty-six other players to finish, in order to learn that he was tied for first with Mike Donald.

Twenty thousand gallery spectators watched the playoff. On the back nine, Irwin made a self-described, "shot of the week," a two-hundred-seven yard iron shot to within six feet of the hole on the 16th. There was a tie at the end of the round. The sudden death round began on the 1st hole, with both players needing to make an approach shot of about one hundred yards. Donald’s approach left him with a thirty-five footer, but Irwin’s approach gave him only an eight to ten foot putt. He holed it, and won the first sudden death playoff in U.S. Open history.

1988 - Ninth U.S. Senior Open

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Tournament Re-Cap

Sweltering heat, and a Roger Packard remodel of the 14th, 17th and 18th holes on Course No.3 greeted the competitors. At the start, Walter Zembriski and Billy Casper tied at 69, 3 under par. Harold Henning was the only other player to break par that day.

Casper again broke par on Friday to continue in the lead, and Zambriski was tied with defending champion, Gary Player and Al Geiberger. Player, Geiberger, Casper and Bob Charles were the only players to finish that day with sub-par numbers.

After Saturday, Gary Player and Bob Charles were in the lead. Lou Graham and Billy Casper were one shot back, and Chi Chi Rodriguez had scored a 67 for a new course record. Then on Sunday, on the 14th, Bob Charles was 3 under with a 3 stroke lead. He boogied that hole and the next two and ended with a par on the 18th.

Gary Player also parred on the 18th, for the last of his seven consecutive pars for a tie, even par 288. The Monday playoff attracted six thousand spectators. They watched Player take a 2 shot lead on the 3rd hole with a fifteen-foot put. Charles two putted the hole to bogey from the same distance. As it turned out, Charles lost his opportunity with that putt. He lost to Player by two shots. Player was the second man to successfully defend a U.S. Senior Open title.

His winning playoff round shows 4 birdies, no bogies, 16 greens in regulation and 26 putts for the winning 68. This was one shot shy of the course record set by Chi Chi Rodriguez the day before.

1975 - 75th U.S. Open

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  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Lightning delays
  • Rainfall before and during the tournament
  • ...and “the monster”, Course No. 3

All of which made for an intense competition for the 75th U.S. Open championship, the second of which to be held at Medinah.

Tournament Re-Cap

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.

Of Note

  • Tied for third at 288 were Bob Murphy, Hale Irwin, the defending champion; Ben Crenshaw and Frank Beard
  • Arnold Palmer finished in a tie for 9th place, his final top-10 finish at the U.S. Open
  • Jerry Pate tied for 18th place and shared low amateur honors with Jay Haas
  • Since moving to the four-day format in 1965, this is the only U.S. Open in which the final round was not scheduled for Father's Day, the third Sunday in June
  • This was the final year that players were not allowed to have their own caddies at the U.S. Open

1949 - 49th U.S. Open

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The 49th U.S. Open at Medinah was full of many firsts

  • It was the first of three U.S. Opens to be held at Medinah
  • For the first time the tournament attracted record crowds of 30,000 spectators
  • It was the first NBC network coverage of a national golf event - millions of TV viewers could see beautiful Medinah Country Club and follow the action
  • Cary Middlecoff won his first of two U.S. Opens

Tournament Re-Cap

After an opening 75, Cary Middlecoff rebounded in the second round shooting a tournament course record 69 to tie with O'Neal White for second position.

On Saturday, Middlecoff made an amazing start for a 4-under par on the first five holes. Entering the final round, Middlecoff led O'Neal White by one stroke. Middlecoff was paired with Clayton Heafner. They were tied at 1-over at the end of the first nine holes. Heafner went ahead by one after the 11th, then double-bogeyed 12 to give Middlecoff the lead. After a Heafner birdie at 13, the two were tied again. Heafner then bogeyed 14 to fall one behind, a deficit he would not be able to overcome after missing a 6-footer for birdie at 18 that would have forced a Sunday playoff.

Sam Snead was also a contender in the final round, and was midway in the back nine when Middlecoff finished in the lead with a 4-under 75. Snead was 2-over with seven holes to play. For a brief time, there seemed to be a chance that he might win the PGA Open, the U.S. Open and Masters in one year. However, on the 17th, he hit the green, but the ball spun out to land in a slight depression in the fringe. He tried to putt, bogeyed, and failed to make the birdie that he needed on the 18th.

Cary Middlecoff won with a score of 286, 2-over par. Sam Snead tied with Clayton Heafner for runner-up.

Of Note

  • Only five players broke par for the tournament, Middlecoff, Snead, Heafner, Turnesa, and Locke
  • Byron Nelson, the 1939 champion, came out of retirement to play but missed the cut
  • Two-time champion Ralph Guldahl (and former Medinah Head Professional) played in his final U.S. Open
  • Middlecoff had been an Army dentist, and it was said, that after turning pro, he never needed to fill another cavity.