U.S. Open countdown: Small ‘Mr. Mac’ stood tall in 1908

14th U.S. Open | Aug. 27-29, 1908

Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton, Mass.


x-Fred McLeod, Scotland 82 - 82 - 81 - 77 322
Willie Smith, Scotland 77 - 82 - 85 - 78 322
Alex Smith, Scotland 80 - 83 - 83 - 81 327
Willie Anderson, Scotland 85 - 86 - 80 - 79 330
John Jones, England 81 - 81 - 87 - 82 331

x-Won playoff

Fred McLeod, a sweet-natured man known as “Mr. Mac”, wasn’t regarded as one of Scotland’s most talented golfers, but he grew to be widely respected within American golf circles because of his gentleman-like manners, and his profound knowledge of the USGA’s rules for golf.

McLeod still is the smallest man (5 feet, 4 inches) to win a U.S. Open.

According to daily reports filed by Washington Star golf writer, Merrell Whittlesey, McLeod — the golf professional at Midlothian Club near Chicago — boarded the train heading to Boston weighing 118 pounds. But after a stressful U.S. Open week, one that included high winds and cold temperatures for the first two rounds, then concluded with an 18-hole playoff with Willie Smith, McLeod weighed himself again. He had lost 10 pounds.

McLeod told Whittlesey he did not sleep the night before the playoff — then decided not to wear his lucky shirt from previous rounds. But when McLeod went to the driving range an hour before his tee time, and failed to hit any of the first 25 practice balls in the air, he went back into the locker room and changed into the dirty shirt.

Shooting 77, he won the playoff by six strokes over Willie Smith, the 1899 U.S. Open winner. Over three decades of playing in the U.S. Open, McLeod finished in the top 10 eight times, but he would never win another major title (he was the runner-up to ex-Tacoma Country and Golf Club professional Jim Barnes at the 1919 PGA Championship).