1931 U.S. Open: Two Tournaments In One

The 1931 U.S. Open was the 35th time the tournament was played, and it was settled only after a 72-hole playoff.

Winner: Billy Burke, 292

Where it was played: Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio

Tournament dates: June 2-6, 1931

Leader after first round: Eddie Williams, Charles Guest, Mortie Dutra and Herman Barron, 71

Leader after second round: George Von Elm, 144

Leader after third round: George Von Elm, 217

Notable Notes: The longest playoff in major championship history happened here when Billy Burke and George Von Elm played an extra 72 holes — a whole other tournament just for the two of them — to decide the victor. At the conclusion of regulation play, the two were tied at 292. The playoff was scheduled for 36 holes, but after that they were still tied (at 149). So they had to play another 36 holes, and finally, after an extra 72 holes, Burke was the winner by one stroke. ... They did all that in sweltering heat that caused this Open to be called "The Inferno at Inverness."

Two equipment tidbits worth sharing: First, Burke was the first golfer to win a U.S. Open using steel shafts in his clubs. That means Bobby Jones, winner of the 1930 U.S. Open (who didn't play here because he had retired from competitive golf) was the last winner of a U.S. Open to use hickory shafts.

Second, the USGA made golfers use what came to be called the "balloon ball" in the 1931 Open as what turned out to be a one-year experiment. The balloon ball was larger (1.68 inches as opposed to 1.62) but lighter (1.55 ounces as opposed to 1.62) than the previous American ball size. The effect was a ball that didn't travel as far and didn't fare well in wind.

Final Scores

x-Billy Burke 73-72-74-73—292
George Von Elm 75-69-73-75—292
Leo Diegel 75-73-74-72—294
Wiffy Cox 75-74-74-72—295
Bill Mehlhorn 77-73-75-71—296
Gene Sarazen 74-78-74-70—296
Mortie Dutra 71-77-73-76—297
Walter Hagen 74-74-73-76—297
a-Philip Perkins 78-76-73-70—297
Al Espinosa 72-78-75-74—299
Johnny Farrell 78-70-79-72—299
Macdonald Smith 73-73-75-78—299
Guy Paulsen 74-72-74-80—300
Frank Walsh 73-77-75-75—300
Herman Barron 71-75-78-77—301
Harry Cooper 76-75-75-75—301
Ed Dudley 75-76-76-74—301
Al Watrous 74-78-76-73—301
Charles Guest 71-75-76-80—302
Tony Manero 74-75-80-73—302
Olin Dutra 76-76-76-75—303
John Kinder 79-72-75-77—303
Laurie Ayton 76-79-74-75—304
Willie Klein 75-80-70-79—304
Denny Shute 79-73-77-76—305
Eddie Williams 71-74-81-79—305
Johnny Golden 79-75-78-74—306
Horton Smith 77-78-75-76—306
Auguste Boyer 75-80-72-80—307
Henry Ciuci 73-79-81-74—307
W.H. Davies 73-83-74-77—307
Tom Creavy 80-72-80-76—308
Ralph Guldahl 77-80-75-76—308
Joe Turnesa 73-75-79-81—308
Alex Watson 75-79-78-76—308
Clarence Clark 76-76-77-80—309
Bobby Cruickshank 74-76-81-78—309
Peter O'Hara 78-76-81-74—309
Walter Kozak 75-77-80-78—310
August Nordone 83-73-78-76—310
Massie Miller 75-78-81-77—311
Francis Scheider 78-75-78-80—311
Clarence Hackney 80-74-82-76—312
Reggie Myles Jr. 76-76-80-80—312
Lloyd Gullickson 75-80-82-77—314
Percy Alliss 78-75-78-84—315
Tommy Armour 75-83-79-78—315
a-Lester Bolstad 80-77-78-80—315
George Smith 75-78-76-86—315
Jack Forrester 75-78-84-79—316
Clark Morse 77-81-79-80—317
Neal McIntyre 78-78-84-79—319
Nick Weber 81-76-84-80—321
Hugh Carpenter 78-79-87-80—324

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