Sports

US Open countdown: Dick Mayer dominates defending champ Cary Middlecoff to win in a playoff

57th U.S. Open/June 12-15, 1957

Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio

Leaderboard

x-Dick Mayer, United States 70 - 68 - 74 - 70 282
Cary Middlecoff, United States 71 - 75 - 68 - 68 282
Jimmy Demaret, United States 68 - 73 - 70 - 72 283
Julius Boros, United States 69 - 75 - 70 - 70 284
Walter Burkemo, United States 74 - 73 - 72 - 65 284

x-won in a playoff

Dick Mayer very well could have been a two-time U.S. Open winner, but a fan yelled during his backswing on the finishing hole of the 1954 national open, which led to a triple bogey when all he needed was par to beat Ed Furgol and win at Baltusrol Golf Club.

This time round, Mayer — a Connecticut native who learned the game under famous instructor Claude Harmon — sank a 9-foot putt on the final hole of regulation, then dominated defending U.S. Open champion Cary Middlecoff in a playoff to win his only major championship.

Mayer finished off an even-par 70 with that birdie, then waited an hour as Middlecoff made a late push — with a 16-footer at No. 16 for birdie, and a finishing birdie at No. 18 on a 10-footer.

In the 18-hole playoff the next day, Mayer prepared for Middlecoff’s deliberate playing style by bringing a stool so he could sit and wait between shots.

It was a miserable ending for Middlecoff, a former dentist, who rallied with back-to-back 68s just to get in position to win his third U.S. Open.

Middlecoff missed a 5-footer for par on the first extra hole to fall behind, and it never got any better for the three-time major champion. He missed four putts of 5 feet or shorter, and never made a birdie in the playoff.

Mayer made only one birdie — at the sixth hole on a 6-footer — but he made pars en route to a 72. Middlecoff made double bogeys at the 10th and 15th holes, and shot 79.

The championship was a rousing success, setting attendance records.

Mayer’s year in 1957 was his best in golf. He made the U.S. Ryder Cup squad, won the World Championship of Golf, led the PGA Tour in season earnings, and won player of the year honors.

This was also the first U.S. Open for a fresh-faced 17-year-old amateur named Jack Nicklaus, who shot back-to-back rounds of 80s and missed the cut.

Also, four-time U.S. Open winner Ben Hogan withdrew before the championship started because of a back injury.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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