U.S. Open countdown: Ouimet‘s win in 1913 is ‘the greatest game ever played’

19th U.S. Open | Sept. 18-20, 1913

The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts


x-Francis Ouimet, United States (a) 77 - 74 - 74 - 79 304
Harry Vardon, Jersey 75 - 72 - 78 - 79 304
Ted Ray, Jersey 79 - 70 - 76 - 79 304
Jim Barnes, England 74 - 76 - 78 - 79 307
Walter Hagen, United 73 - 78 - 76 - 80 307
MacDonald Smith, Scotland 71 - 79 - 80 - 77 307
Louis Tellier, France 76 - 76 - 79 - 76 307

x-won in a playoff

Widely regarded as the most remarkable achievement in American golf, Francis Ouimet’s stunning playoff victory over two British giants brought the sport’s popularity to new heights.

So who was Ouimet?

He was a “commoner” — a poor kid who once caddied at The Country Club in Brookline, right across the street from where he grew up.

A self-taught golfer, by 1913 he was one of the top-ranked amateurs in the country at age 20. That year, the U.S. Open — which held its first pre-tournament qualifier — was delayed until September to accommodate the overseas arrival of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. Initially, when then-USGA president Robert Watson asked Ouimet to play in this U.S. Open, he declined — but later accepted after a deal was brokered with his sporting-goods employer to let him play.

Ouimet birdied the 71st hole to get into the three-man playoff at 304. The next day, Ouimet and 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery walked to the first tee with a record 20,000 gallery members rooting them on under a steady downpour. He took a one-shot lead after a par at the 10th hole, and never relinquished it. He shot a 72, to Vardon’s 77, and Ray’s 78.

With the win, Ouimet became the first of eight amateurs to ever win a U.S. Open; he also later captured a pair of U.S. Amateur titles.

Soon after, golf in the United States saw a substantial boost — both in participation and the construction of public courses. As for Ouimet, he kept his amateur status, playing on the first eight Walker Cup teams (considered the Ryder Cup of amateur golf), so he could pursue a successful career as a banker, stock broker and financial advisor. In 1955, 12 years before his death, Ouimet was awarded the inaugural Bob Jones Award — the highest honor given by the USGA. A movie about his memorable U.S. Open called “The Greatest Game Ever Played” was released in 2005.