Does experience count in golf – part two?

greatest game1

“I have seen men who have won a dozen or more tournaments, upon teeing off for their first USGA Open Championship, come close to vomiting. And golf is no easy game when you are trying to hole a downhill three-footer and throwing up at the same time.”Charles Price

By Ian Hardie

In the post Does experience count in golf? I wrote about wanting to know the answer to the question – Does experience count in golf?

To be more precise what I was really wondering about is whether experience counts

When a golfer is competing in a major tournament on a difficult course

You may recall that question had come up as I was watching a little bit of the final round of the 2014 U.S. Open which was of course won in sublime style by Germany’s Martin Kaymer with a score of 271 or 9 under par

I suggested that most other weeks a total of 9 under par would struggle to win an event on the PGA Tour – however the U.S. Open as you may be aware – is a completely different story

As the USGA purposely choose and set up the courses that are used – to be difficult

So that they can test the skills of the world’s best golfers to their absolute limits

As I was watching those last few holes he played I got to wondering how much of an advantage experience is to a golfer – when playing an extremely tough course – in the pressure cooker environment of a major golf championship

I knew that Martin Kaymer had played in around half a dozen U.S. Opens previously which I think probably help him to ultimately win the tournament but what I was wanting to know was the answer to the question – does experience count in golf – as when I looked at the ages of a lot of the players in the field

There were a lot of extremely talented young golfers out there in their early 20’s

Some of them had already won PGA Tour events – which is an achievement in itself but is a major golf championship like the U.S. Open a different story – given the extremely difficult course set up, pin positions and the pressure of the event

Or is it possible for a golfer to come along to their first U.S. Open ever and win?

It turned out that the U.S. Open had been won by a golfer on their very first attempt

Back in the 1913 U.S. Open that was played at The Country Club in Brookline

After winning his first significant title – the Massachusetts Amateur – at the age of 20

A golfer called Francis Ouimet was asked by the president of the USGA if he would play in the national professional championship – what we now call the U.S. Open

The event had been postponed from its original June dates to allow for the participation of the then famous British golfers Harry Vardon and Ted Ray who were favoured to win the event due to the fact that Harry Vardon had won the U.S. Open in 1900 and The Open Championship five times to that point and Ted Ray had won the Open Championship in 1912

Francis Ouimet originally declined to play in the event, having just had an absence from his work to play in the National Amateur but his participation in the Open was subsequently arranged with the cooperation of his employer

It was Ouimet’s first appearance in the championship and after 72 holes of play he finished in a three-way tie with Harry Vardon and Ted Ray which meant an 18-hole playoff needed to be held the next day to find the winner of the 1913 U.S Open

In rainy conditions, the playoff was – to nearly everyone’s surprise – won by Francis Ouimet

His victory was widely hailed as a stunning upset over the strongly-favoured British pair

Who were regarded as the top two golfers in the world at that point in time

The full story of the event has been written as a book and produced as a movie – both of which I thoroughly enjoyed

If you haven’t read the story or seen the DVD of The Greatest Game Ever Played yet

I’d suggest that you grab yourself a copy of the book or click here for the DVD

As far as I can tell Francis Ouimet’s victory in 1913 was the first and at this point

The only time anyone has ever won the U.S. Open in their first attempt

Which point’s to the fact that experience may well be something that counts in golf

I’m going to look at that some more in ‘Does experience count in golf – part three?’

Until then

Play well

 

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