US Open countdown: Silver Scot tames Oakmont in 1927

31st U.S. Open | June 14-17, 1927

Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.



x-Tommy Armour, Scotland 78 - 71 - 76 - 76 301
Harry Cooper, England 74 - 76 - 74 - 77 301
Gene Sarazen, United States 74 - 74 - 80 - 74 302
Emmet French, United States 78 - 79 - 77 - 73 304
Bill Mehlhorn, United States 75 - 77 - 80 - 73 305

After this summer’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, the national open will return in 2016 to the site that has hosted the most U.S. Opens — Oakmont Country Club.

Right from the get-go, the world’s best golfers saw how beastly this course outside Pittsburgh really is.

Essentially it was more about survival than anything else at the 1927 U.S. Open, something the “Silver Scot” did best for his first professional major title.

Al Espinosa shot the only sub-70 score of the week — a 69 in the final round. Armour and Cooper tied after 72 holes at 301, marking the highest winning score since 1919. It is also the last time a U.S. Open champion shot higher than 300.

Armour was one tough competitor. Much of that stemmed from his past in the Tank Corps. He served Scotland as a staff major in World War I, and lost his sight (later regaining use of his right eye) and had a metal plate inserted into his head after he was hurt in a mustard gas explosion.

It was during his recovery when he started playing more golf. He moved to America, became friends with Walter Hagen and turned professional in 1924.

You could say Armour snatched the U.S. Open title that year away from Cooper, considered one of golf’s greatest players never to win a major. He won 31 times on the PGA Tour.

On the 72nd hole of regulation, Armour rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt to force an 18-hole playoff.

And through 14 holes, Cooper led the playoff by one stroke, only to watch Armour sink a 55-foot putt for birdie at No. 15 to tie him once again.

The tournament was essentially decided a hole later. It took Cooper two shots to get out of a greenside bunker, making double bogey; Armour made a par to take a two-stroke advantage.

Armour won with a 76, to Cooper’s 79. After his victory, no foreign-born player won the U.S. Open for the next 38 years, when South Africa’s Gary Player won in 1965.

The next week, Armour made a bit of history in another way, recording the first ever “archaeopteryx” — or score of 15-over on one hole. He made a 23 on a par 5 at the Shawnee Open, still the highest score ever recorded in PGA Tour history.