1920 US Open: A Year of Comings and Goings

Golfers Harry Vardon and Ted Ray pictured in 1920
Harry Vardon (left) was runner-up to champion Ted Ray (right) at the 1920 US Open. Bettmann/Getty Images

Bobby Jones made his debut in the U.S. national championship, but it was an "old" British guy who won the 1920 U.S. Open. That old British guy should have been Harry Vardon; instead, it turned out to be Ted Ray.

Quick Bits

  • Winner: Ted Ray, 295
  • Dates: Aug. 12-13, 1920
  • Golf course: Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio
  • U.S. Open number: This was the 24th time the championship was played

How Ted Ray Won the 1920 US Open

Ray was 43 years, 4 months and 16 days old at the time of his victory.

That made him the oldest winner of the tournament to this point - and Ray remained the oldest winner all the way up to the 1986 U.S. Open.

Ray, who also won the 1912 British Open, is probably best-known for being part of the famous 3-man playoff at the 1913 U.S. Open - a tournament immortalized in the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played. Ray and Vardon were beaten in that playoff by young amateur Francis Ouimet, an outcome that many credit with spurring the growth of golf in America.

So perhaps it's appropriate that another amateur made his tournament debut in a U.S. Open won by Ray, and almost won by Vardon. Jones was only 18 years old when he played this tournament, and he played the first two rounds with the legendary Vardon.

Jones was entering the scene ... and Vardon was leaving it. The 1920 U.S. Open was Vardon's final appearance in a U.S. Open. Vardon, age 50, tied for second, one stroke behind Ray, while Jones tied for eighth.

Why did we say that Vardon should have won? He held a 5-stroke lead with five holes to play. But Vardon collapsed on the back nine, shooting 42 for a 78 total. His last five holes were particularly ugly, including three 3-putt greens and a ball in the water at the 17th.

Matching Vardon in second place were Leo Diegel, Jock Hutchison, and Jack Burke Sr.

All the runners-up but Burke were (or would become) major champions. While Burke Sr. never won a major, his son did: Jack Burke Jr. won The Masters and PGA Championship in 1956.

Jones Not Only Future Star Making Debut

Jones wasn't the only future golf legend to make his U.S. Open debut in 1920. So did Gene Sarazen, who was, like Jones, 18 years old. Sarazen tied for 30th but won the 1922 U.S. Open, one year before Jones won his first U.S. Open.

And Tommy Armour, still an amateur, made his tournament debut here, too, and finished tied for 48th. Johnny Farrell, not a legend but a future U.S. Open champion, also made his tournament debut.

1920 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1920 U.S. Open golf tournament played at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio (a-amateur):

Ted Ray74-73-73-75--295$500
Jack Burke Sr.75-77-72-72--296$188
Leo Diegel72-74-73-77--296$188
Jock Hutchison69-76-74-77--296$188
Harry Vardon74-73-71-78--296$188
Jim Barnes76-70-76-76--298$90
a-Chick Evans74-76-73-75--298 
a-Bobby Jones78-74-70-77--299 
Willie Macfarlane76-75-74-74--299$80
Bob Macdonald73-78-71-78--300$75
Walter Hagen74-73-77-77--301$70
Clarence Hackney78-74-74-76--302$65
Fred McLeod75-77-73-79--304$60
Mike Brady77-76-74-78--305$18
Frank McNamara78-77-76-74--305$18
Charles Rowe76-78-77-74--305$18
Laurie Ayton75-78-76-77--306 
Johnny Golden77-80-74-75--306 
Eddie Loos75-74-73-84--306 
J.D. Edgar73-82-74-78--307 
James West80-77-75-75--307 
Harry Hampton79-76-74-79--308 
Tom Kerrigan77-81-74-77--309 
Gilbert Nicholls77-82-75-75--309 
J.J. O'Brien82-77-73-77--309 
David K. White78-75-79-77--309 
"Wild" Bill Mehlhorn78-74-79-79--310 
Peter O'Hara84-74-74-78--310 
Alex Ross80-76-77-77--310 
George Bowden74-80-76-81--311 
Charles Hall77-80-76-78--311 
Willie Kidd77-81-76-77--311 
George McLean83-76-73-79--311 
Gene Sarazen79-79-76-77--311 
Fred Bell80-79-76-77--312 
a-W.C. Fownes Jr.80-78-71-83--312 
Emil Loeffler Jr.76-80-77-79--312 
Jack Dowling81-79-78-75--313 
Jack Gordon79-77-76-81--313 
Willie Hunter75-82-78-78--313 
George Sargent76-81-78-78--313 
Louis Tellier78-75-77-83--313 
Pat Doyle85-76-79-74--314 
Otto Hackbarth83-78-77-76--314 
Johnny Farrell80-77-78-80--315 
Charles Thom79-83-78-75--315 
a-Rudolph Knepper76-77-83-80--316 
a-Tommy Armour77-83-76-81--317 
a-Jimmy Johnston80-81-76-80--317 
Fred Brand84-77-80-77--318 
Alex Cunningham79-78-80-81--318 
a-John Simpson78-77-85-78--318 
Frank Adams82-84-73-81--320 
Alex Ayton79-79-76-86--320 
Dave Robertson82-77-83-78--320 
Charles Lorms82-79-78-82--321 
Charles Mayo77-81-83-80--321 
Wilfred Reid80-85-78-78--321 
John Cowan83-78-81-80--322 
Dan Kenney78-81-79-84--322 
Frank Sprogell81-82-79-80--322 
James Carberry80-81-80-83--324 
Lloyd Gullickson80-80-86-79--325 
a-Howard Lee83-82-83-79--327 
John Rodgers90-82-81-76--329 
Peter Walsh85-88-80-83--336 
Eugene McCarthy76-83-87-91--337 

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