1973 US Open: 63 Reasons Johnny Miller Won

Johnny Miller celebrates making the last putt of his final-round 63 to win the 1973 US Open
Johnny Miller celebrates making the last putt of his final-round 63 to win the 1973 US Open. Bettman/Getty Images

The 1973 U.S. Open is one of the most famous tournaments in golf history — so famous that entire books have been written about this one event — thanks, mostly, to Johnny Miller. This is where Miller shot his legendary final-round 63, the first round of 63 in major championship history, to win the tournament.

Quick Bits

  • Winner: Johnny Miller, 279
  • Dates: June 14-17, 1973
  • Golf course: Oakmont Country Club
  • U.S. Open number: This was the 73rd time the championship was played.

Johnny Miller's Magic Round at the 1973 US Open

One of the most famous rounds of golf ever played — arguably the best rounds ever played in a major championship — was turned in by Miller in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open. On a day when only four golfers broke 70 at the very tough Oakmont Country Club, Miller fired a 63, surging from six strokes off the lead at the start of the day to the victory.

It was the first round of 63 ever posted in a U.S. Open — or any of the other professional majors, for that matter.

Miller began the final round in 12th place, an afterthought on a day that started with 43-year-old Arnold Palmer as one of four co-leaders with Julius Boros (age 53), Jerry Heard and John Schlee.

Miller had only two PGA Tour victories when the day began, but he was marked for greatness — one of the best iron players on tour, and someone who had four Top 10 finishes in majors over the previous two years. He finished sixth at the 1973 Masters a couple months earlier.

Miller's round began about an hour before the leaders teed off. His lone bogey of the day happened on the eighth hole. But after that, Miller reeled off birdies on four of the next five holes. Miller tied the lead after a par on the 14th, and took the lead with a birdie on the 15th. He ended the round by lipping out a birdie putt on the 18th that would have given him a 62.

Then Miller waited to see if his 5-under 279 total would hold up. It did.

Palmer was still tied for the lead until bogeying the 12th, 13th and 14th holes, and wound up tied with Jack Nicklaus (who closed with a 68 but was never a threat on the final day) and Lee Trevino in fourth.

Boros and Heard, co-leaders at the start of the day, shot 73s and tied for seventh.

Only Schlee and Tom Weiskopf — who began the day one stroke off the lead — had any chance to catch Miller, but neither could make the late birdies they needed (although both shot very good 70s, and Schlee nearly chipped in on the 18th to tie Miller).

The key for Miller, as it was throughout his career, was his iron play. He hit all 18 greens, with five approaches landing inside six feet of the cup and 10 inside 15 feet, according to the USGA tournament history.

To this day, Miller's 63 has only been tied, never bettered, and still stands as the tournament scoring record. And no other golfer in major championship history bested Miller's 63 until the first 62 was shot by Brendan Grace at the 2017 British Open.

1973 US Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1973 U.S. Open golf tournament played on the par-71 Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania (a-amateur):

Johnny Miller 71-69-76-63--279 $35,000
John Schlee 73-70-67-70--280 $18,000
Tom Weiskopf 73-69-69-70--281 $13,000
Lee Trevino 70-72-70-70--282 $9,000
Arnold Palmer 71-71-68-72--282 $9,000
Jack Nicklaus 71-69-74-68--282 $9,000
Julius Boros 73-69-68-73--283 $6,000
Jerry Heard 74-70-66-73--283 $6,000
Lanny Wadkins 74-69-75-65--283 $6,000
Jim Colbert 70-68-74-72--284 $4,000
Bob Charles 71-69-72-74--286 $3,500
Gary Player 67-70-77-73--287 $3,000
Al Geiberger 73-72-71-72--288 $2,333
Larry Ziegler 73-74-69-72--288 $2,333
Ralph Johnston 71-73-76-68--288 $2,333
Raymond Floyd 70-73-75-71--289 $1,900
a-Vinny Giles 74-69-74-73--290
Gene Littler 71-74-70-76--291 $1,775
Rocky Thompson 73-71-71-76--291 $1,775
Denny Lyons 72-74-75-72--293 $1,600
Hale Irwin 73-74-75-71--293 $1,600
Rod Funseth 75-74-70-74--293 $1,600
Bobby Nichols 75-71-74-73--293 $1,600
Bob Murphy 77-70-75-71--293 $1,600
Bert Yancey 73-70-75-76--294 $1,382
Tom Shaw 73-71-74-76--294 $1,382
Frank Beard 74-75-68-77--294 $1,382
Miller Barber 74-71-71-78--294 $1,382
Charles Coody 74-74-73-74--295 $1,212
John Mahaffey 74-72-74-75--295 $1,212
Chi Chi Rodriguez 75-71-75-74--295 $1,212
Sam Snead 75-74-73-73--295 $1,212
Don Bies 77-73-73-72--295 $1,212
Bob Erickson 73-74-76-73--296 $1,110
Larry Wise 74-73-76-73--296 $1,110
George Archer 76-73-74-73--296 $1,110
Bud Allin 78-67-74-77--296 $1,110
Gene Borek 77-65-80-75--297 $1,060
Deane Beman 73-75-75-75--298 $1,000
Cesar Sanudo 75-73-76-74--298 $1,000
Paul Moran 75-74-76-73--298 $1,000
Mac Hunter Jr. 77-73-72-76--298 $1,000
Billy Ziobro 77-69-77-75--298 $1,000
Dave Stockton 77-73-77-71--298 $1,000
Grier Jones 73-76-76-74--299 $930
Joe Campbell 74-76-74-75--299 $930
Roger Ginsberg 74-75-73-77--299 $930
Lee Elder 72-77-78-72--299 $930
Art Wall Jr. 73-77-71-78--299 $930
Tommy Aaron 78-71-72-78--299 $930
Forrest Fezler 78-69-80-72--299 $930
Butch Baird 75-74-75-76--300 $880
Tony Jacklin T 75-75-73-77--300 $880
Larry Wood 79-71-76-74--300 $880
Chris Blocker 73-76-78-74--301 $855
David Glenz 76-74-71-80--301 $855
a-Gary Koch 74-74-79-75--302
David Graham 73-77-77-76--303 $820
John Gentile 72-74-78-79--303 $820
Bob Goalby 72-77-79-75--303 $820
Jim Jamieson 74-76-79-74--303 $820
John Lister 76-74-80-73--303 $820
Greg Powers 79-70-77-79--305 $800
Tom Joyce 78-70-81-76--305 $800
George Bayer 72-77-82-79--310 $800

Comings and Goings at the 1973 US Open

  • Sam Snead, playing the U.S. Open for the first time since 1970, finished tied or 29th at age 61. He played only two more U.S. Opens after this, and this was the last one in which Snead made the cut. The U.S. Open is the only major Snead never won.
  • Tony Jacklin, the 1970 U.S. Open champ, also made the cut in this tournament for the last time, and also played it only twice more after this. Jacklin tied for 59th place.
  • Gary Koch, future PGA Tour winner and later better-known as a golf broadcaster, played in his first U.S. Open and first major here. He finished 57th.