U.S. Open Playoff Results: All the Winners, Participants, Scores

Tiger Woods won a US Open playoff

The U.S. Open golf tournament has ended in a playoff many times since its beginning in 1895. Those playoffs have taken place over 18 holes, 36 holes — even, one year, 72 holes. There have been 2-player and 3-player playoffs, but not yet a 4-player playoff. And some of those playoffs also led to the golfers continuing into a sudden-death situation.

Following you'll find every playoff in U.S. Open history, the players who participated, the winners and scores. We list them from the earliest to the most recent.

1901 U.S. Open: Willie Anderson def. Alex Smith

The first playoff in U.S. Open history happened the seventh time the tournament was played. It was also the first of Willie Anderson's four championships in the U.S. Open — he defeated Alex Smith by one stroke in 18 holes, 85 to 86.

1903 U.S. Open: Willie Anderson def. David Brown

The second playoff win for Anderson, and this one started his streak of three consecutive years winning this title. In 18 holes, Anderson won by two strokes, scoring 82 to David Brown's 84.

1908 U.S. Open: Fred McLeod def. Willie Smith

The 5-foot-4, 108-pound Freddie McLeod won the 18-hole playoff against Willie Smith by six, 77 to 83. Smith, winner in 1899, was the second of the Smith brothers (after Alex) to lose a U.S. Open playoff. Which brings us to ...

1910 U.S. Open: Alex Smith def. John McDermott, Macdonald Smith

In 1910, Alex beat another Smith brother, Macdonald Smith, plus 18-year-old John McDermott. Alex shot 71, McDermott 75 and Macdonald Smith 77. This was the second of Alex Smith's two U.S. Open wins.

1911 U.S. Open: John McDermott def. Mike Brady, George Simpson

A year later, McDermott, now 19, became the youngest U.S. Open winner (a record he still holds today) via playoff. McDermott shot 80, Mike Brady 82 and Simpson 85. McDermott was also the first American-born winner of the championship.

1913 U.S. Open: Francis Ouimet def. Ted Ray, Harry Vardon

This 18-hole playoff between the young American amateur Ouimet and the two British stars (Vardon being the first international superstar of golf) is often credited as the adrenaline rush that really launched Americans' interest in the sport.

The game was dominated by the English and Scots at this time, and Vardon was the greatest of his era. Ray was no slouch, either (he'd later win his own U.S. Open). The World Golf Hall of Fame, writing about the former caddie Ouimet, stated: "Ouimet's stunning triumph captured the imagination of sports fan across the globe, sweeping away the notion that golf was a stuffy game for the old and rich."

In the 18-hole playoff, Ouimet carded a 72 to Vardon's 77 and Ray's 78.

1919 U.S. Open: Walter Hagen def. Mike Brady

Brady's second playoff loss in a U.S. Open was also the second of Hagen's two wins in this tournament. Hagen famously stayed up all night before the playoff, partying with entertainer Al Jolson. He still beat Brady by a stroke, 77 to 78. Hagen quit his job as professional at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan after this win, and the club hired Brady to replace him.

1923 U.S. Open: Bobby Jones def. Bobby Cruickshank

This was 21-year-old amateur Jones' first win in a major (amateur or professional). Jones won this title despite bogeying the 17th hole and double-bogeying the 18th hole in the fourth round. In the playoff, Jones won by two, 76 to 78.

1925 U.S. Open: Willie Macfarlane def. Bobby Jones

Jones won two U.S. Opens in playoffs, but he also lost two that way. This one was scheduled for 18 holes, but when Jones and Macfarlane were still tied, they played another 18. So it became the tournament's first 36-hole playoff. Macfarlane shot 75-72 and Jones 75-73, Macfarlane winning by one stroke, 147 to 148. Jones blew a four-stroke lead with nine holes to play in the second 18.

1927 U.S. Open: Tommy Armour def. Harry Cooper

In the 18-hole playoff, Armour won by three, carding a 76 to Harry Cooper's 79. It was the first of Armour's three career wins in majors.

1928 U.S. Open: Johnny Farrell def. Bobby Jones

Jones' second U.S. Open playoff loss happened in the first playoff scheduled for 36 holes. Johnny Farrell led by three after the morning 18, 70 to 73. Jones had the edge in the afternoon 18, 71 to 73, but that left Farrell with the one-stroke victory, 143 to 144.

1929 U.S. Open: Bobby Jones def. Al Espinosa

The fourth and final time Jones was involved in a U.S. Open playoff. This one was 36 holes in duration, and Jones was in the playoff because he triple-bogeyed the 15th hole in the final round, followed by a bogey on the 16th, and shot 79. The playoff was no contest, however: Jones beat Al Espinosa by 23 shots, 141 (72-69) to 164 (84-80).

1931 U.S. Open: Billy Burke def. George Von Elm

The longest playoff in pro golf history was 72 holes long. It was scheduled for 36, but when they were still tied after the two playoff rounds, they played another 36 to settle the matter. After 72 holes of regulation and 72 holes of playoff, Burke won it by a single stroke. Burke shot 297 (73-76-77-71) in the playoff, Von Elm 298 (74-75-76-73).

1939 U.S. Open: Byron Nelson def. Denny Shute, Craig Wood

This playoff was supposed to go 18 holes, but when they finished that 18, Nelson and Craig Wood had both scored 68 (Denny Shute had a 76). So those two had to keep playing, and they played another full 18. In the second round, Nelson carded a 70 to Wood's 73, winning by three strokes, 138 to 141.

1940 U.S. Open: Lawson Little def. Gene Sarazen

Sarazen, age 38 and five years removed from his last major win, made a late-career run at another. But Little won this 18-hole playoff by three strokes, 70 to 73.

1946 U.S. Open: Lloyd Mangrum def. Vic Ghezzi, Byron Nelson

This three-man playoff was scheduled for 18 holes, but after that first 18 all three were still tied: each shot 72. So they played another 18 holes to settle it. And even after that, only one stroke separated the three golfers. Mangrum won with a 144 (72-72), Ghezzi (72-73) and Nelson (72-73) tied at 145. This was the first post-World War II U.S. Open and Mangrum, the winner, had received two Purple Hearts in that war after participating in D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

1947 U.S. Open: Lew Worsham def. Sam Snead

Sam Snead never won the U.S. Open, but he birdied the 72nd hole in this one to force the 18-hole playoff. Lew Worsham won it by a stroke, 69 to 70, but it's what happened on the final green that is best remembered. Both had long birdie putts. Worsham went first and missed, leaving about 29 inches for par. Snead left his putt short, about the same distance as Worsham's. Snead walked up to his ball and prepared to hole out, but Worsham stopped him: Worsham wanted a ruling from an official about which ball was out. The official determined that Snead was out. But, rattled, Snead missed the putt. Worsham then holed out for the win.

1950 U.S. Open: Ben Hogan def. George Fazio, Lloyd Mangrum

Sixteen months after the automobile accident that nearly killed him, and that left him with lifelong pain in his legs, Hogan pulled off the "Miracle at Merion." He won this 18-hole playoff by shooting 69 to Mangrum's 73 and Fazio's 75.

1955 U.S. Open: Jack Fleck def. Ben Hogan

There was no mircle for Hogan this time, however. In what many consider one of the biggest upsets in golf history, journeyman Jack Fleck carded a 69 to Hogan's 72.

1957 U.S. Open: Dick Mayer def. Cary Middlecoff

Dick Mayer won his only major by seven strokes, beating Middlecoff 72 to 79. Middlecoff was known as an extremely slow player, but Mayer was prepared: He brought a camping stool to the playoff. When Middlecoff slowed to a crawl, Mayer would take a seat and wait.

1962 U.S. Open: Jack Nicklaus def. Arnold Palmer

This 18-hole playoff didn't just result in Nicklaus' first win in a major, it was his first win of any kind on the PGA Tour. Nicklaus beat Palmer by three strokes 71 to 74. Palmer would later say that if he had beaten Nicklaus this day, he might have been able to "hold him off" for a few more years. At the time, though, Palmer knew what was coming, saying, "Now that the big guy is out of the cage, everybody better run for cover."

1963 U.S. Open: Julius Boros def. Jacky Cupit, Arnold Palmer

Another three-man, 18-hole playoff, and Palmer's second year in a row losing a U.S. Open playoff. The scores were 70 for Boros, 73 for Jacky Cupit and 76 for Palmer. It was the second of Boros' two U.S. Open victories.

1965 U.S. Open: Gary Player def. Kel Nagle

In the first all-international U.S. Open playoff since 1910, South African Player defeated Australian Nagle, 71 to 74. This was Player's only win in the U.S. Open, and it completed the career Grand Slam for him. Player donated his entire paycheck of $25,000 to charities, split between cancer research and junior golf programs.

1966 U.S. Open: Billy Casper def. Arnold Palmer

The third of Palmer's three playoff losses in the U.S. Open was also the hardest to take. In the final round, he blew a 7-stroke lead on the back nine, allowing Casper to force the playoff by shooting 32. In the 18-hole playoff, Palmer lost another lead, and Casper won, 69 to 73.

1971 U.S. Open: Lee Trevino def. Jack Nicklaus

This matchup famously began with Trevino pulling a rubber snake out of his golf bag on the first tee. Contrary to legend, it didn't scare anyone: Nicklaus and the fans all had a good laugh, and Nicklaus had the lead after the first hole. But poor bunker play cost Nicklaus on the next two holes, and Trevino took it from there, winning 68 to 71. It was the second of Trevino's six career major wins, and the second of four times Nicklaus was runner-up to Trevino in a major.

1976 U.S. Open: Lou Graham def. John Mahaffey

Lou Graham won his only major, beating Mahaffey over 18 holes, 71 to 73.

1984 U.S. Open: Fuzzy Zoeller def. Greg Norman

Norman made a 45-foot par save on the 72nd hole to force the playoff, but Zoeller then dominated, winning by eight strokes. The playoff score was 67 to 75. That 67 by Zoeller remains the lowest round ever in a U.S. Open playoff.

1988 U.S. Open: Curtis Strange def. Nick Faldo

Over 18 holes, Strange won by four, 71 to 75. It was the first of back-to-back wins by Strange in the U.S. Open.

1990 U.S. Open: Hale Irwin def. Mike Donald

This was scheduled for 18 holes, but after both carded 74s, they continued into sudden death. And Irwin promptly won it with a birdie on the 19th. Irwin got into the playoff by sinking a 45-foot putt on the 72nd green, after which he sprinted around the green slapping hands with spectators. So that so-called "victory lap" was actually one round premature — but did turn out to be prescient.

1991 U.S. Open: Payne Stewart def. Scott Simpson

An 18-hole playoff in which neither participant played particularly well, but all that matters is who won. And that was Stewart by two strokes, 75 to 77.

1994 U.S. Open: Ernie Els def. Colin Montgomerie, Loren Roberts

This 18-hole, three-man playoff resulted in Els' first major win and first PGA Tour win of any kind. Montgomerie was eliminated after shooting 78, but Els and Roberts were still tied at 74. So they continued into sudden death, and Els won it on the 20th hole with a four to Roberts' five.

2001 U.S. Open: Retief Goosen def. Mark Broooks

Both players three-putted the 72nd hole, leading to the playoff. Goosen won the playoff by two, 70 to 72.

2008 U.S. Open: Tiger Woods def. Rocco Mediate

Playing with an injured left knee that required surgery two days after the tournament ended, Woods forced the playoff by making a birdie on the 72nd hole. Scheduled for 18 holes, Woods and Mediate both scored 71 after Woods again tied Mediate on the 18th hole. They continued to sudden death, and Woods ended it on the 19th with a par to Mediate's bogey. It was Woods' 14th major championship win and his last until 2019.

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Photo credit: "Tiger Woods" by myophoto is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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