For a major that has traditionally favoured home-grown players, recent editions of the US Open have been highlighted the ascent of the internationals.
In the US Open’s first hundred years, there were so few overseas winners that anyone scanning the list of champions could very easily be left with the impression that the event was closed as opposed to open. Take, for example, the period from 1970 to 1994.
Tony Jacklin won at the beginning of the 1970s, but until Ernie Els changed the course of US Open history by seizing the title at Oakmont in 1994, there was only one outside winner – Australia’s David Graham in ’81 – sandwiched between 22 Americans.
Hardly surprisingly, the home players felt pretty much invincible for most of that stretch, and not least because they were rightly able to remind themselves that they had the upper hand when it came to the fickle US Open rough.
Yet there is no question that they would have been keeping an ever more of a wary eye on what was happening elsewhere. At Augusta, for instance, Seve Ballesteros had opened the floodgates for outsiders with his 1980 Masters win. He enjoyed a repeat victory in 1983 and, by the end of the 1994 championship, all of Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and José María Olazábal had their names etched beneath his on the trophy.
Written by Lewine Mair
Photography by AFP
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