Events

Biggest U.S. Open 36-Hole Comebacks in Past 50 Years

By Daniel Wilco
Published on

In the past 50 years, only 21 U.S. Open champions were leading the field after the second round of the tournament. The other 29 champions fought back from an average of 3.2 shots back. The latest came in 2013, when Justin Rose sat one shot back of the lead Saturday morning, before winning by two.

The largest 36-hole deficit by a winner came in 1975. That year, Lou Graham shot 74-72 on Thursday and Friday, sitting four shots over, and 11 strokes back from the 36-hole leader, Tom Watson. But Saturday, Watson collapsed, carding a 7-over 78, while Graham was 3-under to move into a tie for fourth place, still four strokes behind leader Frank Beard. Sunday, Beard followed in Watson’s footsteps, shooting a 78 to finish tied for third place. But Graham’s 73 was enough to put him into a playoff with John Mahaffey. He would win that playoff, becoming the only player in the past 50 years to make up a double-digit deficit after 36 holes.

Here’s the full list of every 36-hole comeback since 1968:

  • 1975: Lou Graham — 11

  • 1992: Tom Kite — 8

  • 1983: Larry Nelson — 7

  • 2012: Webb Simpson — 6

  • 1995: Corey Pavin — 6

  • 1982: Tom Watson — 5

  • 1994: Ernie Els — 4

  • 1990: Hale Irwin — 4

  • 1986: Raymond Floyd — 4

  • 1971: Lee Trevino — 4

  • 1969: Orville Moody — 4

  • 1979: Hale Irwin — 3

  • 1973: Johnny Miller — 3

  • 2006: Geoff Ogilvy — 2

  • 2005: Michael Campbell — 2

  • 2004: Retief Goosen — 2

  • 1998: Lee Janzen — 2

  • 1996: Steve Jones — 2

  • 1998: Curtis Strange — 2

  • 1987: Scott Simpson — 2

  • 1976: Jerry Pate — 2

  • 1968: Lee Trevino — 2

  • 2013: Justin Rose — 1

  • 2009: Luca Glover — 1

  • 2008: Tiger Woods — 1

  • 1997: Ernie Els — 1

  • 1985: Andy North — 1

  • 1984: Fuzzy Zoeller — 1

  • 1981: David Graham — 1

#2020 US Open

This site has a new Privacy Policy. We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies. To review our Cookie Policy, visit our new Privacy Policy.

PGA logo
PGA of America

Experts on the business and game of golf. The best coaching tips and latest golf news delivered straight to you. Sign Up to get the latest.

© Copyright PGA of America 2019.Privacy Policy