12 Golfers Whose Only Tour Win Was the US Open

There have been many surprise winners in the history of golf. But the golfers listed here are some of the biggest surprises. That's because they won the U.S. Open ... and nothing else on the PGA Tour, nothing else on any of the world's significant tours that featured top players of the under-50 variety.

of 04

Orville Moody, 1969 US Open

Winner Orville Moody tees off on the 18th hole during final round competion in the Demaret Division at the 2005 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament
Orville Moody in his Champions Tour days. Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Orville Moody was a tremendous ballstriker, a great iron player. But he had one huge weakness in his game: he was a terrible putter.

He was 34 before he joined the PGA Tour in 1967, following a military career (thus, his nickname of "Sarge"). He was winless on any significant tour prior to the 1969 U.S. Open, and winless after (until he turned 50, more on that in a sec).

But his victory was not completely out of the blue in 1969: Lee Trevino predicted it. Trevino had a feeling that Moody, a friend, was due. Moody had, in fact, lost in a playoff at the Greater Greensboro Open earlier in the season. (Trevino and Moody met overseas when both were on military assignment. In 1967, both were living in El Paso, Texas, and it was Trevino who urged Moody to give the PGA Tour a try.)

At the 1969 U.S. Open, Moody won by one shot over a quartet of runners-up: Deane Beman, Al Geiberger, Bob Rosburg and Bob Murphy.

Moody wound up making more than 250 starts on the PGA Tour, and the 1969 U.S. Open remained his only victory.

Did he win anywhere else? The Korea Open was founded in 1958, and Moody won it the first three years it was played. He was in the U.S. Army at the time, stationed in Korea. That tournament - and golf in Korea - was nowhere near the status it has today, on a growing Korean PGA Tour.

And, as noted above, Moody had a very productive Champions Tour career with 11 senior wins. The key? By the time he joined the Champions Tour, Moody was able to use a long putter.

Moody also has the distinction of being the last golfer to get into the U.S. Open by going through both local and sectional qualifying, and then winning.

of 04

Sam Parks Jr., 1935 US Open

Sam Parks Jr. was a 3-year pro in 1935 who worked at a golf club in Pittsburgh, Pa. And that gave him the opportunity to play the 1935 U.S. Open golf course every day for a month in preparation for the tournament.

Which course? Oakmont Country Club. This was the second time Oakmont was the site of a U.S. Open, and its tough reputation was already well-established: Sportswriter Grantland Rice called the course "more than a savage test of golf."

When the U.S. Open first visited Oakmont in 1927, the winner scored 301 - the last time nobody was able to break 300 in a U.S. Open. In 1935, Parks was the only golfer to finish below 300, and just barely at 299.

Parks did win a handful of state-level and regional PGA of America events afterward, but he never again won anything considered a tour event, and never had another Top 10 finish in a major.

of 04

The Amateurs

An amateur golfer last won the U.S. Open in 1933. One of the amateur winners of the U.S. Open is Bobby Jones, but Jones won seven professional majors overall.

But two other amateurs do. These two amateurs won a U.S. Open, and it was the only significant professional tournament they won:

  • Jerome Travers, 1915: One of the best American golfers prior to the 1920s; won four U.S. Amateurs and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
  • Johnny Goodman, 1933: Beat Ralph Guldahl by one shot. Won many state and regional amateur events, plus the U.S. Amateur in 1937.
of 04

The Earliest US Open Winners

The U.S. Open dates to 1895. In those days, professional tournaments of any kind were rare in America. (The Western Open, now known as the BMW Championship, launched in 1899.) So many of the winners of the U.S. Open in that tournament's first 15 years were one-hit wonders: they won here, but nowhere else in a significant pro event.

Those golfers, and the year each won the U.S. Open, are:

  • Horace Rawlins, 1895
  • James Foulis, 1896
  • Joe Lloyd, 1897
  • Fred Herd, 1898
  • Willie Smith, 1899
  • Laurie Auchterlonie, 1902
  • Alex Ross, 1907
  • George Sargent, 1909