Larry Nelson’s US Open Win at Oakmont

by Jeff Skinner

Oakmont Country Club has a very impressive list of major champions.  Jones, Sarazen, Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus and Miller are a few of the greats that have won a major at what many call the most difficult course in the United States.  The 1983 US Open was another one of those great championships but it often seems to be forgotten.  Tom Watson and Larry Nelson battled it out in a rain delayed final round.  Nelson and Watson were tied at four under with a few holes to play.  When Nelson’s  62 foot birdie putt at the 16th dropped he took the lead and Watson could not catch him.

Larry Nelson is one of the most overlooked and unappreciated major champions in golf.  Nelson accumulated ten PGA Tour wins and three majors.  In addition to his Oakmont win he captured the 1981 and the 1987 PGA Championships while competing with many Hall of Fame golfers back then.  Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino and Miller were winning tournaments by the bunches but Nelson was good enough to get his share of wins.

Nelson came to golf late in life.  He only started playing golf after he came back from a combat tour in Vietnam at the age of 23.  Four years later in 1973 and having played only one full 72 hole tournament he went through Q-School and qualified for the PGA Tour.  Nelson’s story is an amazing one.  He was often overlooked and overshadowed by his flashier and more popular contemporaries but Nelson’s career was certainly Hall of Fame worthy.  He was finally voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.  It was long overdue.


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