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Jerry Pate

Jerry Pate played one of the more memorable shots in Open history and won the 1976 Championship with a score of 277 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Duluth, Georgia. Pate, 22, was leading three players by one stroke on the 72nd hole, a 460-yard, par-4 with a lake in front of the green. From the right rough he hit a 5-iron shot within two feet of the cup and scored a birdie 3. He won by two strokes over Al Geiberger and Tom Weiskopf. John Mahaffey, grouped with Pate, hit his second shot into the lake, made 5, and finished with 280, tied for fourth place with Butch Baird.

Pate was remarkably consistent. He shot rounds of 71, 69, 69, and 68 over the four days. Mike Reid, a 21-year-old amateur from Seattle, Washington, scored three-under par 67, the only sub-par score of the first round and led by three strokes over five others tied at 70. Reid shot 81 in the second round, followed by 80-72 for a 300 total, which tied him with John Fought, of Portland, Oregon as low amateur. Mahaffey shot 68 in the second round and led with 138 for 36 holes, followed by Geiberger at 139. Ben Crenshaw, Rod Funseth and Pate tied for third at 10.

Mahaffey continued to lead after the third round with 207 while Pate finished two strokes behind. Geiberger was at 210 while Weiskopf stood at 211. Crenshaw went two over par and was at 212. The day was marred by rain and lightning which delayed play for one hour and 26 minutes. Mahaffey led by six strokes at one stage during the third round, but bogied 16 and 17 to finish the day just two strokes ahead of pate. Pate was four over par after the first four holes, but then made three birdies and an eagle and finished the round with 69, one under par.

Mahaffey clung to his lead as late as the 15th hole of the final round, but bogied the final three holes, scored 73 and dropped into a tie for fourth place. Geibeger and Weiskopf, playing just ahead of Pate and Mahaffey, seemed to be in position to win the Championship, but both drove poorly on the 72nd hole and played their second shots short of the water hazard and saved their par-4s. Pate then played his dramatic 5-iron out of the rough, over the pond, and onto the 72nd green for the Championship.

Prize money came to $253,000 including $500 to each professional who started but did not make the 36-hle cut. Attendance reached a new high of 113,084 for four days, 15,739 over the record established in 1975 at the Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois. Another Open record was set when 4,436 players filed entries; this was 157 more than filed in 1971 when the Open was held at the Merion Golf Club, Armore, Pennsylvania.


Starts - 12

Best Finish - Winner 1976

Rds - 34

Cuts Made - 5

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 2

Top 10 - 2

Top 25 - 4

Avg. - 73.41

Scores In 60s - 5

Rds Under Par - 6

Earnings - $73,900
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    Historical Notes
    On Oct. 4, 1895, the first U.S. Open Championship was conducted by the United States Golf Association on the nine-hole course of Newport (R.I.) Golf and Country Club.
    The first U.S. Open was considered something of a sideshow to the first U.S. Amateur, which was played on the same course and during the same week. Both championships had been scheduled for September but were postponed because of a conflict with a more established Newport sports spectacle, the America's Cup yacht races.
    Ten professionals and one amateur started in the 36-hole competition, which was four trips around the Newport course in one day. The surprise winner was Horace Rawlins, 21, an English professional who was the assistant at the host course. Rawlins scored 91-82-173 with the gutta-percha ball.
    Prize money totalled $335, of which Rawlins won the $150 first prize. He also received a gold medal and custody of the Open Championship Cup for his club for one year.
    In its first decade, the U.S. Open was conducted for amateurs and the largely British wave of immigrant golf professionals coming to the United States.
    As American players began to dominate the game, the U.S. Open evolved into an important world golf championship. Young John J. McDermott became the first native-born American winner in 1911 and repeated as champion in 1912.
    In 1913, the U.S. Open really took off when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old American amateur, stunned the golf world by defeating famous English professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in a playoff.
    Another surge in the championship's popularity coincided with the amazing career of Georgia amateur Bob Jones, who won the U.S. Open four times (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930). Spectator tickets were sold for the first time in 1922 and a boom in entries caused the USGA to introduce sectional qualifying in 1924.
    In 1933, John Goodman became the fifth and last amateur to win the U.S. Open. The others were Ouimet, Jerome D. Travers (1915), Charles Evans Jr., (1916), and Jones.
    In each era, the world's greatest players have been identified by surviving the rigorous examination provided by the U.S. Open. Ben Hogan's steely determination boosted him to four victories (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953). Arnold Palmer's record comeback win in 1960, when he fired a final round of 65 to come from seven strokes off the lead, cemented his dashing image. Jack Nicklaus' historic assault on the professional record book began when he won the first of his four U.S. Open Championships in 1962, his rookie season as a professional.
    Nicklaus, who also won in 1967, 1972, and 1980, is one of only four golfers to win four U.S. Opens. The others are Willie Anderson (1901, 1903, 1904, 1905), Jones and Hogan.
    In 1954, the U.S. Open course was roped from tee to green for the first time. That year also marked the first national television coverage. Coverage was expanded by ABC Sports in 1977 so that all 18 holes of the final two rounds were broadcast live. In 1982, on the ESPN cable network, the first two rounds were broadcast live for the first time. NBC began televising the U.S. Open in 1995.
    The format of the U.S. Open has changed several times. The USGA extended the championship to 72 holes in 1898, with 36 holes played on each of two days. In 1926, the format was changed to 18 holes played each of two days, then 36 holes on the third day. In 1965, the present format of four 18-hole daily rounds was implemented for the first time.
    In 2002, a two-tee (Nos. 1 and 10) start was used for the first and second rounds. In addition, Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., was the first facility owned by the public to host a U.S. Open. International qualifying sites were added in 2005 and the champion at Pinehurst Resort in N.C. was Michael Campbell, who qualified in England.