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1971 U.S. Open
Recap and Scores for the 1971 U.S. Open Golf Tournament

Lee Trevino defeated Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff a day after a series of missed opportunities on the 72nd hole cost several players chances to either win or tie.

Trevino and Nicklaus each had opportunities to win on the 72nd hole, but Trevino missed a 6-foot putt for par, and Nicklaus missed a 15-foot putt for birdie. Amateur Jim Simons could have joined the playoff with a final-hole birdie, but double-bogied after driving into the rough. Bob Rosburg, 1959 PGA Championship winner but later more famous as a golf broadcaster, three-putted the final green for bogey when a birdie would have gotten him into the playoff.

So the playoff came down to Trevino and Nicklaus. Have you heard the story of the rubber snake? The 1971 U.S. Open is where the incident happened. The story goes like this: On the first tee of the playoff, Trevino pulled a rubber snake from his bag and tossed it at Nicklaus, startling the Bear, unnerving him a bit, and perhaps causing Nicklaus to start slow and lose ground to Trevino.

Here's what actually happened: Trevino pulled a rubber snake from his golf bag on the first tee, causing laughter in the gallery. Nicklaus, who was on the other side of the tee box, asked Trevino to toss the "snake" over, which Trevino did. Nicklaus picked it up, chuckled, and tossed it back. That's it. Nobody was unsettled, and certainly not Nicklaus who birdied the first hole.

But on the second and third holes, Nicklaus left bunker shots in the sand twice, allowing Trevino to open a 2-stroke lead. And Trevino never relinquished his lead - although Nicklaus cut his deficit to one several times - going on to win the playoff 68 to 71.

It was the eighth PGA Tour career win for Trevino, his second U.S. Open victory. Two weeks later Trevino won the Canadian Open, and a week after that he won the British Open. He was the first golfer two win those three national championships in the same year (only Tiger Woods has done it since).

Trevino finished his career with six majors, and Nicklaus was runner-up to Trevino in four of them.

It was a great year for amateurs in the U.S. Open. Ben Crenshaw finished tied for 27th; Lanny Wadkins, making the cut in a major for the first time, finished tied for 13th.

And then there was Simons, a 21-year-old on the Butler University golf team. Simons shot 65 in the third round, one stroke off the tournament record of the time, and still tied for lowest round by an amateur in the U.S. Open.

That round propelled Simons to the lead, and he still led at the midway point of the final round before falling back to fifth. His 283 total is the second-best by an amateur in tournament history. His fifth-place finish is the most recent time an amateur has finished in the Top 10 in a U.S. Open, and it's the best finish for an amateur in the U.S. Open since Nicklaus tied for fourth in 1961.

1971 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores
Results from the 1971 U.S. Open golf tournament played on the par-70 East Course of Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania (x-won playoff; a-amateur):

x-Lee Trevino 70-72-69-69--280 $30,000
Jack Nicklaus 69-72-68-71--280 $15,000
Bob Rosburg 71-72-70-69--282 $9,000
Jim Colbert 69-69-73-71--282 $9,000
George Archer 71-70-70-72--283 $6,500
Johnny Miller 70-73-70-70--283 $6,500
a-Jim Simons 71-71-65-76--283  
Raymond Floyd 71-75-67-71--284 $5,000
Gay Brewer 70-70-73-72--285 $3,325
Larry Hinson 71-71-70-73--285 $3,325
Bobby Nichols 69-72-69-75--285 $3,325
Bert Yancey 75-69-69-72--285 $3,325
Bobby Cole 72-71-72-71--286 $2,220
Chi Chi Rodriguez 70-71-73-72--286 $2,220
Jerry Heard 73-71-73-69--286 $2,220
a-Lanny Wadkins 68-75-75-68--286  
Bob Charles 72-75-69-70--286 $2,220
Jerry McGee 72-67-77-70--286 $2,220
Dave Eichelberger 72-72-70-73--287 $1,700
Hale Irwin 72-73-72-70--287 $1,700
Ken Still 71-72-69-75--287 $1,700
Homero Blancas 71-71-75-70--287 $1,700
Bob Goalby 68-76-74-69--287 $1,700
Dick Lotz 72-72-73-71--288 $1,500
Bob E. Smith 71-74-71-72--288 $1,500
Arnold Palmer 73-68-73-74--288 $1,500
Bob Lunn 71-73-71-74--289 $1,253
Bobby Mitchell 72-74-72-71--289 $1,253
Kermit Zarley 74-70-72-73--289 $1,253
a-Ben Crenshaw 74-74-68-73--289  
Ralph Johnston 70-75-73-71--289 $1,253
John Schroeder 73-72-69-75--289 $1,253
Don January 75-73-71-70--289 $1,253
Orville Moody 71-71-76-71--289 $1,253
Gary Player 76-71-72-70--289 $1,253
Bruce Devlin 72-69-71-77--289 $1,253
Gene Littler 74-74-71-71--290 $1,080
John Lister 73-75-72-70--290 $1,080
Lou Graham 75-72-70-73--290 $1,080
Doug Sanders 68-75-71-76--290 $1,080
Bob Erickson 71-67-73-79--290 $1,080
Dale Douglass 70-74-74-74--292 $997
Julius Boros 74-71-73-74--292 $997
Mason Rudolph 72-75-71-74--292 $997
John Schlee 70-73-77-72--292 $997
Paul Harney 73-74-72-74--293 $960
Labron Harris Jr. 67-77-76-73--293 $960
Chuck Courtney 74-73-77-69--293 $960
Bobby Greenwood 73-74-73-74--294 $915
Bob Risch 74-74-73-73--294 $915
Arthur Silverstrone 74-70-76-74--294 $915
Don Bies 71-74-72-77--294 $915
Bruce Crampton 73-73-71-77--294 $915
Charles Sifford 75-72-69-78--294 $915
a-Danny Yates 72-75-76-72--295  
Bob Dickson 73-74-76-72--295 $870
Al Geiberger 71-71-75-78--295 $870
Deane Beman 72-73-70-80--295 $870
Miller Barber 73-73-72-78--296 $850
Roy Pace 72-76-73-76--297 $835
Gene Borek 75-71-75-76--297 $835
Ronnie Reif 73-72-75-78--298 $820
Charles Coody 70-76-75-79--300 $810
a-Jim Masserio 71-75-77-79--302  

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