24th U.S. Open | Aug. 12-13, 1920
Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
|Ted Ray, Jersey||74||-||73||-||73||-||75||—||295|
|Jack Burke, Sr., United States||75||-||77||-||72||-||72||—||296|
|Leo Diegel, United States||72||-||74||-||73||-||77||—||296|
|Jock Hutchison, United States||69||-||76||-||74||-||77||—||296|
|Harry Vardon, Jersey||74||-||73||-||71||-||78||—||296|
As long as he had been playing golf, Ted Ray had played second fiddle to the world-renowned, well-respected Harry Vardon, his elder Jersey countryman. They often toured together throughout North America as exhibition match partners.
And they decided to give the U.S. Open another go-round in 1920 — seven years after they both lost in a memorable playoff to Francis Ouimet at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
This time, the tournament came down to Ray, who ascended the leaderboard with a final round 75, and Vardon, who lost a five-stroke advantage with five holes remaining and lost with a disappointing 78.
At the time, Vardon was 50. With a history of tuberculosis and battling overwhelming fatigue, he looked every bit an aged player coming down the stretch with three consecutive three-putts. And at the fateful 17th hole, he dumped his approach shot in the pond, and made double bogey.
Ray, 43, also had his issues on the back nine, but he made par on the finishing hole to hold off Vardon and the other three runners-up to become the oldest champion in U.S. Open history. He remained the oldest for 66 years – or until Raymond Floyd, at 43 years and 9 months, captured the 1986 tournament.
It would be the final time Vardon played in the U.S. Open. Ray did not return the following year to defend his title. In fact, Ray played it just one more time, tying for 27th in 1927.
A couple of noteworthy debuts were made at Inverness. Four-time U.S. Open winner Bobby Jones tied for eighth. And fellow 18-year-old Gene Sarazan, a future career Grand Slam winner, tied for 30th.