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US Open 2006: the most exciting finish in major history?



US Open 2006: the most exciting finish in major history?

Winged Foot in New York plays host to the first Major of the 2020-21 season with the world’s elite vying for a big win.

The course has hosted the US Open five times, but none were more dramatic as its last staging of the event, in 2006.


History of the course

The 2006 event was the fifth US Open at Winged Foot and the sixth Major Championship (1997 PGA Championship won by Davis Love III).

As with most US Opens, the scoring is usually high. However, the 1974 and 2006 tournaments were two of the highest major championship 72-hole scores in golf (five-over-par in 2006 and seven-over-par in 1974).

For USGA championships, the West Course is set up in its most difficult condition. For example the 514-yard ninth hole becomes one of the longest par fours in major championship history and the 640-yard twelfth is the sixth longest hole in major championship history.


The 2006 US Open

Round 1

Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie was the only player under par after shooting a one-under-par 69.

Phil Mickelson, who had won the last two Majors, was only a shot behind at level par with Steve Stricker and former US Open champion Jim Furyk also at level.


Round 2

The second round saw Stricker lead a Major for the first time since 1998 after a one-under 69. He was the only player under par after 36 holes. One stroke back was Montgomerie with Australian Geoff Ogilvy a further shot back.

The best rounds of the day belonged to Arron Oberholser and David Duval who both shot 68. The cut for the tournament was +9 with no amateurs making it to the weekend.


Round 3

Following a one-under 69 in the third round, Mickelson shared the 54-hole lead with Englishman Kenneth Ferrie with Ogilvy one shot back.

Stricker led through much of the front nine but ended up with a 76. He was joined by Montgomerie and Englishman Ian Poulter who shot a level par 70 to stay at five-over-par.


Round 4

In one of the most exciting final rounds in U.S. Open history, Ogilvy survived a brutal final day to win his only major title.

The Australian took the lead early and led by two strokes after 7 holes, but lost his lead with four bogeys in seven holes. However, he finished his round with four pars, including a chip in at the 17th.

After his miraculous save, more drama was yet to come with his tee shot on 18 finding the fairway but also a sand-filled divot. His approach was online but hit the green’s false front and rolled back. After hitting a great chip he would hole his downhill six-footer for par and the clubhouse lead.

Whilst this was going on Montgomerie had holed a 75-foot putt for birdie on the 17th hole for a share of the lead whilst Mickelson had bogeyed the 16th and parred the 17th.

Both stood on the 18th needing pars to win, or bogeys to tie with Ogilvy, teeing off in the first group, Montgomerie hit a great drive down the middle into prime position with only 170 yards to the flag.

After an extended wait and much club deliberation; he finally selected a 7-iron and proceeded to miss the green short and right, finishing in the deep rough.

Montgomerie’s chip was more or less impossible; he managed to leave a long downhill par putt which he hit eight feet by. His putt to force a playoff missed and he missed out by one shot.

Mickelson, on the other hand, hit his tee shot so far left that it clattered through the trees by a hospitality tent.

Still trying for par, Mickelson went for the green but his second shot hit a tree and only advanced 25 yards, his third faded into the greenside bunker and plugged in the sand.

Playing his fourth shot, he was not able to control it, and it rolled off the other side of the green into the rough. He needed to hole his chip shot for a playoff, but ended up missing, finishing up with a double bogey.

Whilst Mickelson and Montgomerie had ruined their chances, Furyk also needed par to force a playoff. His tee shot went to the left and found the first cut. With his second shot finding the greenside bunker, he needed to get up and down for a playoff. Splashing out to five feet he would miss the putt to save par.

Another player who missed out was Irishman Padraig Harrington; amazingly he bogeyed the final three holes and finished two strokes behind.

In the final round, five different players held the lead at some point on Sunday with 15 different lead changes between them.

With his win, Ogilvy became the first Australian to win a major since Steve Elkington in the 1995 PGA Championship, and the first to win a US Open in a quarter century, since David Graham in 1981.


With Winged Foot hosting this year’s US Open, we will be hoping for similar drama in what is the first Major of the season. We hope you enjoyed this article ‘US Open 2006: the most exciting finish in major history??’ Do you have fond memories of past tournaments? Let us know!


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A lifelong interest in watching and playing sport led Matt to study Sports Journalism at Solent University, graduating in 2019 with a broken nose after a hockey mishap. However, golf is his primary passion. As a junior, he held a scratch handicap, played for county and was Junior Club Captain. Matt has interviewed a number of influential figures within golf as well as working with the R&A and writing for Golf Monthly.


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