Golf

US Open countdown: Smith smokes field by record 11 strokes in 1899

5th U.S. Open | Sept. 14-15, 1899

Baltimore Country Club, Baltimore, Md.

Leaderboard

Willie Smith, Scotland 77 - 82 - 79 - 77 315
Val Fitzjohn, Scotland 85 - 80 - 79 - 82 326
George Low, Scotland 82 - 79 - 89 - 76 326
Bert Way, England 80 - 85 - 80 - 81 326
Willie Anderson, Scotland 77 - 81 - 85 - 84 327

Man, those Smith brothers certainly knew how to golf their ball.

From a large family of 10 siblings — half of whom made it to adulthood — Willie was the second-oldest of five golfing siblings (Alex, Willie, George, Jimmy and Macdonald) from Carnoustie.

Even though it was Alex who immigrated to America first, and challenged at earlier U.S. Opens, it was Willie who won in his first try. And he did it in dominating fashion, posting an 11-stroke victory — the largest in tournament history until Tiger Woods went on his 2000 romp at Pebble Beach, winning by 15 shots.

Willie played in nine U.S. Opens, and finished in the top 10 in eight of them — including a runner-up finish to his older brother in 1906. He also won the first Western Open in 1899, and the California State Open in 1900.

Eventually, Willie left his position at Midlothian Country Club near Chicago to become Mexico City Country Club’s first head professional in 1904. A decade later, after losing contact with his family, he was attacked by Emiliano Zapata’s army in the country club during the Mexican Revolution, and later died of pneumonia.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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