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 Ray 74-73-73-75--295 $500
Jack Burke Sr. 75-77-72-72--296 $188
Leo Diegel 72-74-73-77--296 $188
Jock Hutchison 69-76-74-77--296 $188
Harry Vardon 74-73-71-78--296 $188
Jim Barnes 76-70-76-76--298 $90
a-Chick Evans 74-76-73-75--298
a-Bobby Jones 78-74-70-77--299
Willie Macfarlane 76-75-74-74--299 $80
Bob Macdonald 73-78-71-78--300 $75
Walter Hagen 74-73-77-77--301 $70
Clarence Hackney 78-74-74-76--302 $65
Fred McLeod 75-77-73-79--304 $60
Mike Brady 77-76-74-78--305 $18
Frank McNamara 78-77-76-74--305 $18
Charles Rowe 76-78-77-74--305 $18
Laurie Ayton 75-78-76-77--306
Johnny Golden 77-80-74-75--306
Eddie Loos 75-74-73-84--306
J.D. Edgar 73-82-74-78--307
James West 80-77-75-75--307
Harry Hampton 79-76-74-79--308
Tom Kerrigan 77-81-74-77--309
Gilbert Nicholls 77-82-75-75--309
J.J. O'Brien 82-77-73-77--309
David K. White 78-75-79-77--309
"Wild" Bill Mehlhorn 78-74-79-79--310
Peter O'Hara 84-74-74-78--310
Alex Ross 80-76-77-77--310
George Bowden 74-80-76-81--311
Charles Hall 77-80-76-78--311
Willie Kidd 77-81-76-77--311
George McLean 83-76-73-79--311
Gene Sarazen 79-79-76-77--311
Fred Bell 80-79-76-77--312
a-W.C. Fownes Jr. 80-78-71-83--312
Emil Loeffler Jr. 76-80-77-79--312
Jack Dowling 81-79-78-75--313
Jack Gordon 79-77-76-81--313
Willie Hunter 75-82-78-78--313
George Sargent 76-81-78-78--313
Louis Tellier 78-75-77-83--313
Pat Doyle 85-76-79-74--314
Otto Hackbarth 83-78-77-76--314
Johnny Farrell 80-77-78-80--315
Charles Thom 79-83-78-75--315
a-Rudolph Knepper 76-77-83-80--316
a-Tommy Armour 77-83-76-81--317
a-Jimmy Johnston 80-81-76-80--317
Fred Brand 84-77-80-77--318
Alex Cunningham 79-78-80-81--318
a-John Simpson 78-77-85-78--318
Frank Adams 82-84-73-81--320
Alex Ayton 79-79-76-86--320
Dave Robertson 82-77-83-78--320
Charles Lorms 82-79-78-82--321
Charles Mayo 77-81-83-80--321
Wilfred Reid 80-85-78-78--321
John Cowan 83-78-81-80--322
Dan Kenney 78-81-79-84--322
Frank Sprogell 81-82-79-80--322
James Carberry 80-81-80-83--324
Lloyd Gullickson 80-80-86-79--325
a-Howard Lee 83-82-83-79--327
John Rodgers 90-82-81-76--329
Peter Walsh 85-88-80-83--336
Eugene McCarthy 76-83-87-91--337

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