The U.S. Opens at Pinehurst

With three U.S. Opens in 15 years, Pinehurst has become an enduring home to America’s national championship

Closing the 2014 U.S. Open, USGA President Thomas O’Toole stood at the podium and spoke of the previous champions at Pinehurst — of Ben Hogan and Sam Snead from the sepia-toned era and Payne Stewart and Michael Campbell from the modern epoch — and welcomed Martin Kaymer, the newly anointed U.S. Open champion from Germany, to the same heady fraternity.

The history of this small village, nestled in the Sandhills of North Carolina, is long and storied. But it is a living history, a history that continues to be written — often, during the month of June.



USGA Executive Director Mike Davis is a keen historian of golf and says when asked to talk about the most memorable and important U.S. Opens in history, he thinks of 1900 at Chicago Golf Club, where Harry Vardon won his first Open—“That was the one that took the Open from a small, mostly regional event into a national and international competition,” Davis says.

He thinks of 1913 at Brookline, when American Francis Ouimet bested the top players from Great Britain. He thinks of Arnold Palmer winning at Cherry Hills in 1960, beating an aging Ben Hogan and a young Jack Nicklaus; of Nicklaus and Tom Watson winning at Pebble in 1972 and ’82, respectively; and of Tiger Woods’ playoff win over Rocco Mediate on a broken leg at Torrey Pines in 2008.

2014 U.S. Open

Martin Kaymer poses for pictures during the trophy presentation of the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & C.C. in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)

And he’ll now think of the two weeks in June 2014 at Pinehurst No. 2, when Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie won back-to-back the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open.

“We saw this year we don’t have to have real narrow fairways, we don’t have to have to have long, rough grass to have successful U.S. Opens,” Davis says. “In a few years from now, I think we’ll look back on the 114th U.S. Open and the 69th Women’s Open and say that in a lot of ways, it was a seminal moment in the game of golf and championship golf and sustainability of the game. These two weeks will rank right up there with the best ever.

“We have to celebrate how well Martin Kaymer played and how Michelle Wie won her first major championship. It was a great story on water use and a great story of the restoration of one of the great golf courses in the country—in the world, for that matter. It’s going to be hard to give these two weeks enough accolades for what they’re going to mean to the game.”

– Lee Pace


Michael Campbell’s pitch to the 18th green on Sunday, June 19, 2005, was 77 yards from the pin – the exact same yardage Payne Stewart had for his third into the finishing hole in 1999.

“The bells are ringing,” NBC on-course analyst Dottie Pepper said of the nearby Village Chapel chimes. “It’s pretty eerie out here.”

“Yup, same spot Payne laid it up to,” Johnny Miller added. “Payne left it 15 feet under the hole, and made that putt.”

Campbell knocked his to 3 feet.

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell listens to the applause of the crowd as he walks up the 18th hole at Pinehurst No. 2. Campbell won the 105 U.S. Open finishing even par and defeating Tiger Woods by two strokes. Photo By Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE (c) Copyright 2005 Bob Donnan

Two putts later – we failed to mention Campbell left his pitch above the hole – one of the more unlikely U.S. Open champions put the finishing touches on a remarkable performance. Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open Champion, held off a furious charge by Tiger Woods at Pinehurst No. 2, making birdies at 10, 13 and finally, on 17, to clinch the national championship. He finished in even par 280, two strokes better than who Campbell calls the best player “we’ve ever seen.”

“The heart of the week was holding off Tiger,” Campbell told us of winning the Open. “I had the best player in the world chasing me down.”

– Alex Podlogar


It was golf theatre unlike anything the grand old course had ever seen, the roars funneling through the pine trees and engulfing the memory of polite applause from the villagers and resort guests when Hogan and Snead, Ward and Patton, Nicklaus and Palmer had passed through earlier in the century.

Payne Stewart

Payne Stewart

Payne Stewart stuck his 6-iron tee shot to 4 feet on the par-3 17th hole in the final round of the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Phil Mickelson didn’t flinch, firing his 7-iron to 6 feet. Mike Hicks, Stewart’s caddie, says he’d never heard the kind of noise he heard on 17 that day—“And I’ve worked several Ryder Cups.” NBC’s Roger Maltbie observed on-air, “It’s getting kinda wild out here.” Tiger Woods had to wait to hit his approach on 18 until the applause for Stewart and Mickelson subsided.

“At first I thought I was in a small earthquake,” says Ron Crow, a volunteer scorer who walked with the final pairing on that gray, drizzly afternoon. “The ground shook some because of the reception the gallery gave those two players.”

And then they played the 18th.

– Lee Pace