US Open countdown: 1969 champion Orville Moody is a one-hit wonder

69th U.S. Open | June 12–15, 1969

Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas


Orville Moody, United States 71 - 70 - 68 - 72 281
Deane Beman, United States 68 - 69 - 73 - 72 282
Al Geiberger, United States 68 - 72 - 72 - 70 282
Bob Rosburg, United States 70 - 69 - 72 - 71 282
Bob Murphy, United States 66 - 72 - 74 - 71 283

When USGA officials discuss the U.S. Open championship, they often emphasize the “open” part. A portion of the 156-player field is open to players who gain entry through a qualifying process. Any professional or amateur with a handicap index of 1.4 or less can attempt to make the field by playing in local and sectional qualifying tournaments.

The last player to make the journey from local qualifying to sectional qualifying to U.S. Open champion was Orville Moody, the 1969 winner at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

“The Sarge” might be the most unlikely winner in history.

A 35-year-old Texan who ended a 14-year Army career on March 5, 1968, Moody won in only his second Open. The victory also was the only PGA Tour victory for Moody in 266 career tournaments.

A par-saving putt on the 72nd hole prevented what would have been a four-way playoff with Al Geiberger, Deane Beman and Bob Rosburg.

“That was a long 14 inches for a million dollars,” Moody said, looking ahead to lucrative endorsements he would soon add to the $30,000 winner’s check.

He also picked up one other thing after winning: the phone.

On the other end was President Richard Nixon, who called to offer congratulations.

“That was the highlight of my day,” Moody said.

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