The story of this young man unknown to all had, more than a century and for the first time, unleashed passions. Victorious in the general surprise of the 1913 US Open, on the course of the Brookline Country Club where the US Open takes place this year, amateur Francis Ouimet allowed American golf to take his turn. There was an before and an after.
Before, golf in the United States was just a pastime devoted to the cooler classes. Britain dominated the world through its Triumvirate made up of JH Taylor, James Braid et Harry Vardon. The future sextuple vainqueur of the British Open, is the very first star in international golf. He is the first to be sponsored to cross the Atlantic to compete in the US Open.
A big tour favorite: star Harry Vardon
Le Tiger Woods at the time it had to do only one blockage of its competitors as it did 13 years earlier, in 1900. But this time, some American players did not hear it from this ear, notably the double holding the title John McDermott. The press is interested in this emerging rivalry, but this is not one of the newspapers. Not yet.
An unknown person lives in hole 17: Francis Ouimet
Professionally, Vardon has studied the game of his rivals, but he ignores the local champion, a former caddy of modest condition, who lives with his parents in front of hole 17 of the Country Club.
Uncertain Francis Ouimet. Rejected by his father who disapproves of his love of golf and who exempts him to do something else in his life, he only learns the rudiments of the game.
In 20 years, the Massachusetts Amateur in pocket, he has just challenged the US Amateur, beaten only in quarters by the future winner Jerome Travers.
A film and a book drawn from the event
As the film falsely shows Bill Paxton A course of legenddrawn from the best book of Mark Frost The biggest party of all time, Francis Ouimet (with a similar name, he must have French origins!) Is not an unknown shadow from nowhere. But he is certain that at the heart of the tournament, his role is that of simple figure.
Amateur, Ouimet failed not to contest the tournament
Or at first, the young amateur didn’t even have to argue! Salaried in a sports articles magazine, he has no more days off, but despite the insistence of the USGA and the understanding of his employer (good luck!), Francis Parvient, this Thursday 18 September 1913 to present at the start of the US Open.
The mythical pair with his caddy
It is in the midst of a very clear crowd that he conducts his first two tours in the company of a very fantastic 10 -year -old caddy, Eddie Lowery. This union dedicated on the spot, on the raised foot, will mark entire generations through an iconic photo of the representatives. Rather nervous, Ouimet limited the damage and finished the day at +5 (the tournament was then spent over 4 rounds in two days), with four longs from Vardon, already leading.
A birdie or 17 is sent to play-offs
Friday is another pair of misses! Knowing the course by heart, thanks in part to a birdie at 17, he snatched in +12 (!) A play-off on 18 holes against the star, accompanied this time by his pote Ted Ray, future winner in 1920. Victim of what one still called the yips, Vardon did not succeed in concluding on the greens. The national press will focus on the subject that it already considers as an exploit.
Another birdie on the 17th gives him the win
In the early morning, Ouimet stunned the huge crowd that had come to support him. He talks about 10,000 people, or the largest flood ever recorded for a golf tournament in the United States. In the afternoon, he is treated like heroes after his prodigious victory marked, once again by a birdie at 17. The revolution could begin.
The One of the New York Times
This fantastic victory, marked by a sense of drama unpublished in golf, makes it one of the local and national newspapers. The title même of the New York Times “The Ouimet World’s Golf Champion”, demonstrating total knowledge of the game and the competition. Many Americans discover this sport, others assume it can be practiced by young people who are not forcibly comfortable. The following began.
An explosion of US golf
In 1920, it counted more than 1,000 courses, a number that doubled in 10 years. Many are municipal clubs accessible to the public. These will allow the practice to explode. According to the Ouimet Foundation, at the time of the 1913 US Open, about 350,000 golfers were recruited. The figure passed 2,1 million in 1923!
Ever since, the father of US golf
Among them, many children and caddies began to dream. Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen and later Ben Hogan et Byron Nelson all, at one point, paid tribute to Francis Ouimet who pursued with class his well -traveled career of 2 U.S. Amateurs (1914, 1931). Died in 1967, at the age of 74, he is considered one of the fathers of American golf.