Golf is one of those wonderful spots that provide us with memorable shots, unlikely winners, and amazing comebacks. One of the oldest such stories, is still one of the most astonishing. Today, we will remember the remarkable story of one of the great golf underdogs, Francis Ouimet, the man who over a century ago, provided the golfing world with a superb rags to riches tale.
A true underdog story, Francis Ouimet’s tale ignited the sport of golf in a country that had previously struggled to emerge of the shadow of those who created the sport. A huge list of names have been born out of his success, providing a platform for such legendary American golfers such as Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones to Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Sam Snead, on to Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Tiger Woods.
The event where this remarkable victory occurred was the US Open, held in 1913 over two days in September. While Oiumet made a promising start to the Open, he was expected to fall back as the consistency of the more experienced British players took over. That, however, was not to be the case, as wet weather conditions, and a determined and dogged display by the young Oiumet, allowed him to best his British golfing counterparts and stop the US Open trophy heading back to the UK.
Upon his victory, the scenes were incredible, as the crowd who had been so patient and restrained in the buildup, released all their emotion and rushed their new hero on the 18th hole where he had just secured victory. Then-president of the USGA, Robert Watson, wasn’t in attendance at the US Open even, but upon hearing of the result he remarked, “It’s the most wonderful thing that ever happened in the history of golf”.