US Open countdown: Guldahl’s strong final round helps him repeat as champion in 1938

42nd U.S. Open | June 9-11, 1938

Cherry Hills Country Club, Englewood, Colorado


Ralph Guldahl, United States 74 - 70 - 71 - 69 284
Dick Metz, United States 73 - 68 - 70 - 79 290
Harry Cooper, England 76 - 69 - 76 - 71 292
Toney Penna, Italy 78 - 72 - 74 - 68 292
Byron Nelson, United States 77 - 71 - 74 - 72 294
Emery Zimmerman, United States 72 - 71 - 73 - 78 294

Guldahl followed a similar script — pass the third-round leader with a low final round — to become the fourth man to defend a U.S. Open crown.

Just like in 1937 at Oakland Hills, Guldahl reeled in the leader with a hot front nine, then made key birdies over the final holes to post the same score — 69.

The robust Texan had a tall task ahead of him entering the final 18 holes. He trailed Metz by four strokes. But he flipped the leaderboard by going out in 1-under 34; Metz, a 10-time PGA Tour winner from Kansas, struggled to a 41.

This time playing in front of a huge gallery, Guldahl closed the door on the field with short birdie putts at the 13th and 14th holes. He had seven one-putt greens in the final round.

Guldahl’s six-shot triumph was the largest margin of victory since Jim Barnes, the former club professional at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club, won by nine strokes at the Columbia Country Club in 1921.

Guldahl became the first golfer to defend his national-open title since the great Bobby Jones did in 1930. Others to do that included Willie Anderson (1903-05) and John McDermott (1911-12).

Ray Ainsley set a dubious U.S. Open record — highest score on a single hole. He recorded a 19 on the par-4 16th hole in the second round. His approach shot landed in a creek. Instead of taking a drop, he continued to attempt to hit the ball out of the water.

This was also the first U.S. Open played in the western United States. It returned to Cherry Hills in 1960 and 1978.