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Scott Simpson

Scott Simpson, 31, birdied the 14th, 15th and 16th holes of the final round to overtake Tom Watson and win the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Simpson's 71-68-70-68-277, three under par, was one stroke better than Watson, who shot 72-65-71-70-278. They were the only players to better par for the Championship. Seve Ballesteros finished third at 282, two over par and five strokes behind Simpson. Ben Crenshaw shot a 67 and held a one-stroke lead after the first day. Trailing him were six top foreign golfers and the defending U.S. Open Champion.

In second place at two-under par 68 were Ballesteros of Spain, Japan's Tommy Nakajima and 1986 Open Champion Raymond Floyd. Two strokes behind Crenshaw were South African Nick Price, Denis Watson of Zimbabwe and West German Bernhard Langer. Ten golfers posted scores of even-par 70. Tom Watson, who shot a second-round 65 and Mark Wiebe, who shot 67, share the 36-hole lead at three-under-par 137. They were two of 24 golfers who broke par for the round, tying a record set in the second round of the 1985 Open at Oakland Hills.

One stroke behind the leaders were Nakajima, Lanager, Jack Nicklaus, Jim Thorpe and John Cook. A record 77 golfers completed 36 holes within 10 strokes of the lead and made the cut at seven-over-par 147. For only the third time, however, no amateurs survived the cut. After a third-round 71, Watson held the lead by himself. One stroke behind were Simpson and Keith Clearwater, who fired a third-round 64, typing the record for a third round in the Open set by Crenshaw in 1981 and tying the course record set by Rives McBee in the 1966 Open.

Two strokes off the lead at even par was Lennie Clements, who shot a third consecutive 70. Wiebe shot 77 and fell out of contention. Early in the final round, the leaders played erratically, allowing nine golfers to be within one stroke of the lead at one point. Through 13 holes, however all but Simpson and Watson fell back and Watson led by one. Simpson caught Watson by sinking a five-foot birdie putt at the 14th. Watson, one group and one hole behind, birdied 14 at nearly the same instant that Simpson birdied 15.

Simpson took the lead when he holed a 15-footer at 16 for his third consecutive birdie. He finished his round by saving par from a greenside bunker at 17 and a two-putt at 18. Watson holed a six-foot par putt at 17 and needed a birdie at the 18th to force a playoff. His approach came to rest about 45 feet short of the hole. His birdie putt broke just before reaching the hole and came to rest six inches away. The USGA accepted a record 5,696 entry for the Championship.


Starts - 19

Best Finish - Winner 1987

Rds - 73

Cuts Made - 17

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 2

Top 10 - 4

Top 25 - 10

Avg. - 72.38

Scores In 60s - 14

Rds Under Par - 16

Earnings - $418,048.62
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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.