12th U.S. Open | June 28–29, 1906
Onwentsia Club, Lake Forest, Illinois
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|Alex Smith, Scotland||73||-||74||-||73||-||75||—||295|
|Willie Smith, Scotland||73||-||81||-||74||-||74||—||302|
|Laurie Auchterlonie, Scotland||76||-||78||-||75||-||76||—||305|
|James Maiden, Scotland||80||-||73||-||77||-||75||—||305|
|Willie Anderson, Scotland||73||-||76||-||74||-||84||—||307|
Everything seemed in order for Willie Anderson to run his U.S. Open winning streak to four when the tournament arrived at Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. Not only had Anderson won three in a row and four of the previous five Opens, he was the head professional at the host club and reportedly the highest-paid club pro in the country.
A Chicago Tribune article in May 1906 detailed a practice session by Anderson at Onwentsia in which he tied the 18-hole record (70) at the course and set the 36-hole record (144) on his way to a three-round total of 219. “The national champion was in rare form, smashing out drives that averaged regularly from 200 to 250 yards and approaching and putting with the greatest accuracy,” the Tribune said.
Alex Smith, the runner-up to Anderson in 1901 and 1905, didn’t see Anderson as having an advantage. “He won’t win,” Smith told reporters before the tournament. “He’s playing on his home course and the home professional never wins.”
It appeared to be a two-man race on the first day. Smith recorded a two-round total of 147 in windy conditions, good for 2-stroke lead over Anderson. No one else in the field of 65 broke 150.
The duel turned into a rout on the final day. After pushing his advantage over Anderson to three shots after the third round, Smith played through pouring rain and shot 75 in the final round. His 295 total set the tournament record. Anderson shot 84 and faded to fifth place. He never placed higher than fourth in four subsequent Open appearances before his death in 1910.