49th U.S. Open | June 9-11, 1949
Medinah Country Club No. 3 Course, Medinah, Ill.
|Cary Middlecoff, United States||75||-||67||-||69||-||75||—||286|
|Clayton Heafner, United States||72||-||71||-||71||-||73||—||287|
|Sam Snead, United States||73||-||73||-||71||-||70||—||287|
|Bobby Locke, South Africa||74||-||71||-||73||-||71||—||289|
|Jim Turnesa, United States||78||-||69||-||70||-||72||—||289|
Like his father, Herman, Cary Middlecoff had two attachments — dentistry and golf.
And just like his pops, and his two uncles, Middlecoff not only became a dentist, graduating from the Tennessee College of Dentistry, he served as one in the U.S. Army Dental Corps during World War II — and afterward in his father’s practice.
But in 1947, golf won out. The All-American at the University of Mississippi before attending TCD started playing full time on the PGA Tour, winning 40 times. His 28 tournament victories in the 1950s were most by any golfer in that decade.
And Middlecoff was a tall, charming, handsome, well-spoken man — loved by his peers. But on the course, he had nervous ticks, often fretting over club selection and gaining a reputation as a slow player.
Middlecoff also had to keep tabs on a nasty temper, especially after ugly holes or bad rounds.
But his straight driving, precise long-iron play and steady putting was tailor-made for a layout such as Medinah CC, which hosted the U.S. Open for the first time that year.
Clayton Heafner held a one-shot lead early in the back nine of the final round, but made a mess of the 12th hole, leading to double bogey.
Middlecoff didn’t do anything special in that final round — he shot 75 — but the chasers around him crumbled. Heafner also bogeyed the 15th hole to give Middlecoff the lead for good.
Sam Snead had a chance to tie with two holes to go. All he needed to do was make pars. But his tee shot over the lake at the par-3 17th hole came to rest on the fringe. He three-putted, leading to a fatal bogey — and his third U.S. Open runner-up finish.
And Heafner, too, had a late chance to send it into a playoff. But his 6-foot birdie putt went awry, giving Middlecoff his first major title.
Byron Nelson, the 1939 U.S. Open winner, came out of retirement to play in this national open. He missed the cut.
And two-time U.S. Open champion Ralph Guldahl played in his final U.S. Open.