U.S. Open countdown: Alex Smith defeats brother, young American in 1910 playoff

16th U.S. Open | June 18-20, 1910

Philadelphia Cricket Club, St. Martin’s Course, Chestnut Hill, Pa.


x-Alex Smith, Scotland 73 - 73 - 79 - 73 298
John McDermott, United States 74 - 74 - 75 - 75 298
Macdonald Smith, Scotland 74 - 78 - 75 - 71 298
Fred McLeod, Scotland 78 - 70 - 78 - 73 299
Tom McNamara, United States 73 - 78 - 73 - 76 300
Gilbert Nicholls, Scotland 73 - 75 - 77 - 75 300

x - Won playoff.

When Alex Smith lost the 1901 U.S. Open at Myopia Hunt Club to Willie Anderson in the most mind-wrecking of ways — on short putts on the finishing holes of regulation and an 18-hole playoff – many pundits wondered how the Scot would recover from those moments.

Indeed, he did just fine, posting 11 top-10 finishes in 18 U.S. Open appearances — including winning his second Open title in 1910 near Philadelphia. Oddly enough, when Smith won the 1906 U.S. Open, his brother Willie was the runner-up. This time around, it was another sibling — MacDonald Smith, along with John McDermott, an 18-year-old up-and-comer, who formed the three-man playoff. Smith had a chance to win it outright in regulation, but missed an 18-inch putt. That misfortune did not carry over to the 18-hole playoff the next day as he was the best man by a lot, shooting 71 to McDermott’s 75 and Macdonald’s 77.

It was reported afterward that Alex Smith tried consoling the young American, to which McDermott replied, “I’ll get you next time, you big lout!” As everyone found out, McDermott’s words were true — his day was coming soon.

The site of this U.S. Open was significant in that the professionals were first given access to the clubhouse and the locker room during the tournament. Anderson, the four-time U.S. Open winner, finished 11th in his final U.S. Open. He died a few months later at the age of 31.