1966 US Open: A Famous Charge, an Infamous Collapse

1966 US Open winner Billy Casper
1966 US Open winner Billy Casper. Evening Standard/Getty Images

The 1966 U.S. Open is where Billy Casper staged one of the greatest come-from-behind wins ever; and where Arnold Palmer suffered one of the biggest collapses.

Palmer led Casper by three strokes at the start of the final round. When Palmer and Casper made the turn after nine holes of Round 4, the tournament appeared to be over, and Palmer appeared to be running away with it: Palmer had stretched his lead over Casper to seven strokes.

But Palmer, who shot 32 on the front nine, struggled over the back nine, scoring 39. Meanwhile, Casper caught fire, shooting his own 32 over the back nine.

Palmer lost a stroke at the 10th, then another at the 13th. The players halved the 14th, so to speak, which left Palmer with a 5-stroke lead with four holes to play.

And Casper completely erased that lead over the next three holes. Palmer gave two back at the 15th, then gave up another two on the 16th. When Palmer bogeyed the 17th, the entire 7-stroke lead was gone. Palmer and Casper were tied.

They matched scores on the 18th to finish at 278, seven strokes ahead of Jack Nicklaus in third. Casper and Palmer continued on to an 18-hole playoff the following day, and once again Palmer gave up the lead.

In the playoff, Palmer led by two strokes at the midway point, but lost six strokes to Casper over the final eight holes. Casper won the playoff 69 to 73.

For Casper it was his second win in a U.S. Open, his 30th victory on the PGA Tour. Palmer was runner-up again at the 1967 U.S. Open, completing a six-year period in which he finished second four times in the U.S. Open.

Two-time U.S. Open champion and 40-time PGA Tour winner Cary Middlecoff made his last appearance in this championship this year, withdrawing after the first round.

Lee Trevino made his first appearance in a major here, finishing tied for 54th.

And Hale Irwin, later a 3-time U.S. Open winner, made his major championship debut in the 1966 U.S. Open, making the cut as an amateur.

The most impressive amateur, however, was 19-year-old Johnny Miller. Miller grew up playing the Olympic Club, and his course knowledge - not to mention a game that showed flashes of future brilliance - helped him finish tied for eighth in his major championship debut.

1966 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1966 U.S. Open golf tournament played on the par-70 Lake Course of Olympic Club in San Francisco, California (x-won playoff; a-amateur):

x-Billy Casper69-68-73-68--278$26,500
Arnold Palmer71-66-70-71--278$14,000
Jack Nicklaus71-71-69-74--285$9,000
Tony Lema71-74-70-71--286$6,500
Dave Marr71-74-68-73--286$6,500
Phil Rodgers70-70-73-74--287$5,000
Bobby Nichols74-72-71-72--289$4,000
Wes Ellis71-75-74-70--290$2,800
a-Johnny Miller70-72-74-74--290 
Mason Rudolph74-72-71-73--290$2,800
Doug Sanders70-75-74-71--290$2,800
Ben Hogan72-73-76-70--291$2,200
Rod Funseth75-75-69-73--292$1,900
Rives McBee76-64-74-78--292$1,900
a-Bob Murphy73-72-75-73--293 
Gary Player78-72-74-69--293$1,700
George Archer74-72-76-72--294$1,430
Frank Beard76-74-69-75--294$1,430
Julius Boros74-69-77-74--294$1,430
Don January73-73-75-73--294$1,430
Ken Venturi73-77-71-73--294$1,430
Walter Burkemo76-72-70-77--295$1,175
Bob Goalby71-73-71-80--295$1,175
Dave Hill72-71-79-73--295$1,175
Bob Verwey72-73-75-75--295$1,175
Miller Barber74-76-77-69--296$997
Bruce Devlin74-75-71-76--296$997
Al Mengert67-77-71-81--296$997
Robert Shave Jr.76-71-74-75--296$997
Tommy Aaron73-75-71-78--297$920
a-Deane Beman75-76-70-76--297 
Al Geiberger75-75-74-73--297$920
Vince Sullivan77-73-73-74--297$920
Kel Nagle70-73-81-74--298$870
Tom Veech72-73-77-76--298$870
Gene Bone74-76-72-77--299$790
Gay Brewer73-76-74-76--299$790
Charles Harrison72-77-80-70--299$0
Don Massengale68-79-78-74--299$790
Billy Maxwell73-74-74-78--299$790
Ken Still73-74-77-75--299$790
a-Ed Tutwiler73-78-76-72--299 
Bob Wolfe77-72-76-74--299$790
Chi Chi Rodriguez74-76-73-77--300$697
George Knudson75-76-72-77--300$697
Tom Nieporte71-77-74-78--300$697
Bob Rosburg77-73-75-75--300$697
George Bayer75-74-78-74--301$655
Gardner Dickinson75-74-78-74--301$655
Gene Littler68-83-72-78--301$655
Steve Oppermann73-76-74-78--301$655
Charles Coody76-75-76-75--302$625
Tom Shaw75-74-73-80--302$625
Gene Borek75-76-77-75--303$600
Johnny Bulla73-76-77-77--303$600
Lee Trevino74-73-78-78--303$600
Bruce Crampton74-72-80-78--304$565
Lee Elder74-77-74-79--304$565
David Jimenez75-73-81-75--304$565
Claude King74-77-77-76--304$565
a-Hale Irwin75-75-78-77--305 
Stan Thirsk72-79-72-82--305$540
Herb Hooper73-76-85-72--306$530
Joe Zakarian77-74-79-80--310$520

One other thing of note about Palmer's week here: His caddie was Mike Reasor. Reasor went on to be a PGA Tour player himself, but once finished 93-over-par in a tour event.