Arnold Palmer, 1960 U.S. Open champion, Cherry Hills Country Club

Posted June 18, 2016 - Western Pennsylvania Golf Association - Contact

Arnold Palmer at the 1954 U.S. Amateur. Photo courtesy of the USGA.

As we celebrate the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, June 13-19, we honor the four individuals from western Pennsylvania that have won the championship. This is the final part of our four-part series.

Prior to the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo., Arnold Palmer asked long-time golf writer for the Pittsburgh Press, Bob Drum, if he thought a 65 would be enough to win.

Drum told him, “It would not do you any good.”

In Palmer’s words, the comment “burned [him] up,” so much so that that he couldn’t finish his lunch.

Palmer started the final round seven shots behind third-round leader, Mike Souchak, and tied for fifteenth. He wasn’t even considered to be in contention, and not just by Drum.

That changed in a hurry.

Palmer drove the 346-yard first hole and made birdie. He then collected birdies on six of the first seven holes and the par-5 11th. His only bogey came on the par-3 8th. Palmer made pars on the remaining holes for a front-nine 30 and a final-round 65 to finish with a 4-under total of 280 and a two-stroke victory over 20-year old amateur Jack Nicklaus. His round of 65 was the lowest final round in U.S. Open history.

In his charge to victory at Cherry Hills, Palmer overcame the largest final round deficit in U.S. Open history to become champion. The record stands today.

Palmer’s charge started at an early age. In fact, he was nearly unbeatable.

A standout at Latrobe High School, he won the WPIAL and PIAA Championships in 1946 and 1947, and the West Penn Junior in 1947 and 1948. He also won five West Penn Amateurs in 1947, and 1949-1952.

Palmer is one of three players to win the West Penn Junior and West Penn Amateur in the same year.

Palmer also won the Ohio Amateur in 1953 and 1954.

After winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club of Detroit, Palmer turned professional at the age of 24 and had immediate success. His greatest stretch as a professional was from 1958 to 1964 when he won his seven professional major titles. He won the Masters Tournament in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964, and the 1961 and 1962 British Open.

While taking a week off from the PGA Tour, Palmer returned to western Pennsylvania to win the 1957 West Penn Open at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

From 1960 to 1967, Palmer’s record in the U.S. Open included the win in 1960, and four runner-up finishes. Three of these came after a playoff. He also won the 1981 U.S. Senior Open in the first year he was eligible.

Palmer is part of an elite group of five players to win three different USGA Championships along with JoAnne Carner, Jack Nicklaus, Carol Semple Thompson and Tiger Woods. He is also part of an elite group of golfers with victories in the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open.

All told, he won 62 events on the PGA Tour, 12 on the Senior Tour and 92 titles overall around the world. His 22-8-2 record in he Ryder Cup play is the best winning percentage ever. He also won four Vardon trophies for low scoring average in a season on the PGA Tour, three money titles, and two PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. His total wins on the PGA Tour ranks him fifth all-time.

In 1971, the USGA awarded him its highest honor by naming him the recipient of the Bob Jones Award.

Palmer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, and he was inducted to the Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame on September 26, 2013, as part of the inaugural class.