96th U.S. Open/June 13-16, 1996
Oakland Hills CC South Course, Birmingham, Mich.
|Steve Jones, United States||74||-||66||-||69||-||69||—||278|
|Tom Lehman, United States||71||-||72||-||65||-||71||—||279|
|Davis Love III, United States||71||-||69||-||70||-||69||—||279|
|John Morse, United States||68||-||74||-||68||-||70||—||280|
|Ernie Els, South Africa||72||-||67||-||72||-||70||—||281|
|Jim Furyk, United States||72||-||69||-||70||-||70||—||281|
Steve Jones was a survivor.
His early PGA Tour career was ascending steep and fast with three victories in 1989. He was down to earth off the course, and a straight, high-ball hitter on it.
Then a rash of injuries hit, starting in 1991 when he crashed on a dirt bike in the Arizona desert and obliterated much of the left side of his body, especially his hand.
He reinjured that hand pulling up carpet months later. He was out of golf for nearly three seasons.
But almost out of nowhere, Jones — a News Mexico native — made it a career week to remember at Oakland Hills, going from sectional qualifier to national open champion in a span of two weeks.
“I know it sounds crazy,” said Jones, the first sectional qualifier to win a U.S. Open since Jerry Pate did in 1976. “But I wasn’t sure I had the guts to win.”
He was locked in a duel with Tom Lehman, who tied the course record with a third-round 65 to grab a one-shot lead.
Lehman upped his lead to two strokes after back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh holes.
But at No. 10, Lehman made bogey and Jones birdied to tie for the lead.
Jones held a two-stroke advantage on the back nine after a 12th-hole birdie — but gave it all back with a bogey at the 17th hole, missing an 8-foot putt for par.
The co-leaders were tied on the tee of the finishing hole. Lehman pulled out the driver, and made a fatal mistake by landing his tee shot in a fairway bunker.
Having to clear a high lip out of the bunker, Lehman laid up with an 8-iron, but he could get no closer than 15 feet on his third shot at the par 4.
Lehman missed his par-saving attempt, and Jones barely made his 18-inch comeback par putt to win. It would be the last of just two top-10 finishes in 12 U.S. Open trips.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods made his first cut as an amateur at 14-over 294. And Jack Nicklaus played in his 40th U.S. Open on a USGA special exemption.