The U.S. Open in golf was first played in 1895 at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. With the exceptions of 1917 and 1918 due to WW I, and 1942-1945 due to WW II, the U.S. Open has been played annually since 1895.
What I’m listing in this article is the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Open, followed by the age of some of the most notable golfers in history when they first won the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open is one of the four majors in golf, and winning the tournament is an extremely prestigious accomplishment for any player.
Youngest Golfer to Win the U.S. Open
- John McDermott (1911) – 19 years old
John McDermott is the youngest player to win the U.S. Open in golf. McDermott was 19 years, 10 months, and 14 days old when he won the U.S. Open in 1911 at the Chicago Golf Club.
Not only was John McDermott the youngest U.S. Open champion, he was also the first winner who was born in the United States. From 1895 to 1910, for the first 16 years of its existence, the U.S. Open was won by golfers who were born in either England or Scotland (Harry Vardon was born on Jersey, an island owned by England).
Interestingly, not only did John McDermott come back in 1912 and win the U.S. Open again at the Country Club of Buffalo at the age of 20, but he very nearly won the tournament in 1910 at the age of 18.
In the 1910 U.S. Open, played on St. Martin’s Course at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, McDermott finished regulation play over 72 holes in a tie with the Scottish brothers Alex and Macdonald Smith. Alex Smith defeated his brother and John McDermott in an 18-hole playoff to win the 1910 U.S. Open.
Life did not go well for John McDermott after his two U.S. Open wins. By his early twenties mental illness started dominating his life, and he spent years in mental hospitals and rest homes. He tried to make a few comebacks over the years, but he never really played professional golf again.
Some golf historians think John McDermott could have been one of the greatest golfers of all-time, perhaps the greatest, if not for his mental illness.
Age at Which Golf Greats First Won the U.S. Open
- Gene Sarazen (1922) – 20 years old
- Bobby Jones (1923) – 21
- Walter Hagen (1914) – 21
- Willie Anderson (1901) – 21 (four-time winner)
- Rory McIlroy (2011) – 22
- Jack Nicklaus (1962) – 22
- Tiger Woods (2000) – 24
- Hale Irwin (1974) – 29 (three-time winner)
- Gary Player (1965) – 29
- Arnold Palmer (1960) – 30
- Tom Watson (1982) – 32
- Ben Hogan (1948) – 35