1910 U.S. Open: A Schism In the Smith Family

Alex Smith won the 1910 US Open

The 1910 U.S. Open was the 16th time the tournament was played. The champion emerged from a 3-way playoff.

Winner: Alex Smith, 298

Where it was played: Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania

Tournament dates: June 18-20, 1910

Leader after first round: Tom Anderson Jr., 72

Leader after second round: Alex Smith, 146

Leader after third round: John McDermott, 223

What Happened at the 1910 U.S. Open

Alex Smith won his second U.S. Open title in a playoff that also included his brother plus an 18-year-old. The 18-year-old was John McDermott, who went on to win the next two times the tournament was played. Macdonald Smith was Alex's brother. But Alex didn't take it easy on either his family or the kid, shooting 71 in the 18-hole playoff to win by four over McDermott and six over Macdonald.

The Smith brothers were Scotsmen working as club professionals in America. Another brother, Willie Smith, was the 1899 U.S. Open winner. Alex had previously won the 1906 U.S. Open, with brother Willie as runner-up that time. So in both Alex's U.S. Open, one of his brothers finished second. Of the three golfing Smith brothers, Macdonald won the most events that are now recognized as PGA Tour victories — 24 — but he never won a major.

Alex Smith, meanwhile, finished in the Top 10 at the U.S. Open 10 of the 15 times he played between 1898 and 1912 (including three runners-up and three thirds), plus once more in his final appearance in the 1921 U.S. Open. By adding the 1910 title to the won he won in 1906, Smith became the U.S. Open's first two-time champion.

McDermott was the third-round leader by two, but Macdonald Smith — who started the final round four off the lead — caught him with a 71. Alex Smith was the last of the three to finish, and he had a putt of less than two feet for birdie and outright victory on the 72nd hole. But he missed.

So the three played another 18 the following day, with Alex shooting 71, McDermott 75 and Macdonald Smith 77. McDermott went on to win the 1911 U.S. Open and 1912 U.S. Open.

According to the USGA, host club Philadelphia Cricket Club was the first U.S. Open site to give the professionals access to the clubhouse and locker room. Most clubs of this era prohibited pro golfers from entering those areas.

Other finishes of note: Famous golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast tied for 25th playing as an amateur. And four-time U.S. Open winner Willie Anderson finished 11th in his final appearance in this tournament. He died a few months later at age 31.

Final Scores of the 1910 U.S. Open

x-Alex Smith 73-73-79-73—298
John McDermott 74-74-75-75—298
Macdonald Smith 74-78-75-71—298
Fred McLeod 78-70-78-73—299
Tom McNamara 73-78-73-76—300
Gilbert Nicholls 73-75-77-75—300
Jack Hobens 74-77-74-76—301
Tom Anderson Jr. 72-76-81-73—302
Herbert Barker 75-78-77-72—302
Jock Hutchison 77-76-75-74—302
Willie Anderson 74-78-76-75—303
George Low 75-77-79-74—305
Charles Thom 80-72-78-75—305
Tom Bonnar 78-78-71-80—307
George Cummings 78-73-79-77—307
Alex Campbell 79-76-80-74—309
George Sargent 77-81-74-77—309
Jack Campbell 77-77-81-75—310
James Thomson 74-80-80-76—310
a-Fred Herreshoff 76-77-79-79—311
George Smith 76-78-79-80—313
Alex Ross 78-84-73-79—314
Otto Hackbarth 79-82-78-76—315
Martin Oloughlin 77-82-80-76—315
a-A.W. Tillinghast 80-81-79-76—316
William Robinson 83-81-78-75—317
Jack Burke Sr. 81-77-77-84—319
James Donaldson 80-78-87-75—320
David Honeyman 83-79-79-79—320
Irving Stringer 83-77-82-78—320
Jack Croke 77-78-83-83—321
Alfred Campbell 78-84-81-79—322
Walter Fovargue 79-86-75-82—322
Peter Robertson 79-81-80-82—322
Orrin Terry 82-84-79-77—322
Isaac Mackie 81-82-80-80—323
Sam White 82-79-82-80—323
Willie Maguire 76-83-81-84—324
Frank Peebles 80-85-77-82—324
Robert Peebles 83-81-80-80—324
Jack Jolly 83-80-82-80—325
George Griffin 81-81-85-79—326
Robert Mcwatt 83-79-82-82—326
Joe Mitchell 78-82-83-84—327
Karl Keffer 84-79-87-79—329
James Campbell 86-78-80-86—330
a-Robert Watson 86-76-86-83—331
a-Charles Burgess 81-83-88-81—333
William F. Hackney 78-85-88-84—335

Photo credit: Golfer Alex Smith/public domain via Library of Congress

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