Sports

US Open countdown: Andy North wins again after T.C. Chen’s game goes south

85th U.S. Open/June 13-16, 1985

Oakland Hills CC South Course, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Leaderboard

Andy North, United States 70 - 65 - 70 - 74 279
Dave Barr, Canada 70 - 68 - 70 - 72 280
Tze-Chung Chen, Taiwan 65 - 69 - 69 - 77 280
Denis Watson, Zimbabwe 72 - 65 - 73 - 70 280
Seve Ballesteros, Spain 71 - 70 - 69 - 71 281
Payne Stewart, United States 70 - 70 - 71 - 70 281
Lanny Wadkins, United States 70 - 72 - 69 - 70 281

Andy North did not do much during his PGA Tour career, but the one thing he could do was capture U.S. Opens.

The Wisconsin native should have been given more credit for winning his second national open at Oakland Hills. He wasn’t. Instead, this was a championship known more for the way Tze-Chung (T.C.) Chen lost it than for how North won it.

Chen went on a historic scoring streak through three rounds, setting the course record in the first round with his 65 — highlighted by the first double eagle in tournament history.

In the second round, his 69 gave him a share of the 36-hole scoring mark. Another 69 matched the 54-hole record.

It all set up for the 26-year-old Chen — who had been playing golf for only a decade — to become the first player born in Asia to win the U.S. Open.

Signs early in the final round were promising, too. By the fourth hole, Chen had opened up a four-shot advantage over North, the 1978 U.S. Open champion.

What happened to Chen on the fifth hole became the defining sequence of the championship.

The fifth hole is a straight-forward par 4 — 457 yards in length. Chen had made par on it the first three days.

But he got in trouble immediately, and found himself in deep right rough just short of the green in three shots.

Thinking he needed to make a bogey, Chen tried going directly at the pin with his sand wedge shot. The ball came out high. And on the follow-through of his swing, he clipped the golf ball again.

Hitting the ball twice on one swing incurred a one-stroke penalty. It also gave him a nickname he could not live down — “Two Chip” Chen.

He then three-putted for a quadruple-bogey 8, or as Chen later called it, a “Double par.”

Obviously shaken, Chen made bogeys on the next three holes to fall two shots out of the lead, held by North.

“It was a freaky thing,” North told reporters afterward. “He gave us all a chance.”

Chen birdied the 12th hole to regain a share of the lead, but lost it for good with bogeys at the 14th and 17th holes.

All North needed was a bogey on the finishing hole to win the championship — and did just that with a two-putt.

It wasn’t a fantastic display of golf by North. He hit just four fairways and made one birdie in the final round. In fact, his nine birdies total were the lowest by a post-World War II champion in U.S. Open history.

It was also North’s last victory on the PGA Tour. He never finished inside the top 25 in another major for the rest of his career.

As for Chen, he won once on the PGA Tour — the 1987 Los Angeles Open. He returned to Asia and won six times on the Japan Golf Tour.

Also noteworthy at the 1985 U.S. Open, four-time winner Jack Nicklaus missed the cut at 9-over 149, and saw his run of 21 consecutive cuts made come to an end.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

  Comments