The U.S. Open was not born on Long Island, but it didn't miss by much. Only one year after Newport, R.I., hosted the inaugural Open in 1895, the event was held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton. It has been on Long Island nine times and will be back for a 10th in 2018, again at Shinnecock Hills.
On the occasion of the U.S. Golf Association announcing the next chapter Wednesday, it is worth reflecting on the previous ones. After consulting with some local golf historians and other aficionados, here is an unscientific ranking of Long Island's best U.S. Opens:
1) 1923, Inwood Country Club
Bobby Jones, having never won a major, had told friends that he would quit competitive golf if he didn't win this one. At least that's the story they still tell at Inwood.
In any event, Jones used a putter he found during a practice round at Nassau Country Club (the putter was nicknamed "Calamity Jane") and beat Bobby Cruickshank on the final hole of an 18-hole playoff. And he did it in style, clearing a pond with a 2-iron that carried between 190 and 200 yards and landed between six and eight feet of the hole. Golf magazine once rated it the greatest shot of the 20th Century. There still is a plaque on the spot.
Although it would be probably only an 8-iron for Dustin Johnson or other modern players, that Open changed history and launched Jones' career, which in turn led to the creation of the Masters.
2) 2002, Bethpage Black
"The People's Open" was historic in its own way. For the first time, the USGA brought its signature event to a municipal course, and the response was so extraordinary that the association quickly announced that the Open would be back at the Black in 2009.
This Open withstood a rainstorm of almost biblical proportions on Friday and a severe thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon. There still was enough daylight, though, for a strong finish by Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer of all-time and one who grew up playing public golf. The biggest impression, though, was made by the fans who let loose a passion rarely if ever seen before in major championship golf.
3) 1986, Shinnecock Hills
Ninety years later, the Open came back to one of the USGA's charter member clubs and the finish was one for the ages. Raymond Floyd emerged from one of the most frenzied final rounds ever -- eight golfers either held or shared the lead -- and won his first Open on his 22nd try. At 43, he was the oldest to that point ever to win the event.
"He gets this look," said Payne Stewart, who played with Floyd that day and was one of those who had a piece of the lead. "His eyes get big and round and seem to be staring at something you can't see."
4) 1995, Shinnecock Hills
Corey Pavin just couldn't wait. The "Best Golfer Never to Have Won a Major" just had to run up the 18th fairway, leap as high as he could and peek at where his 4-wood shot had ended up. It ended up just fine, giving him the biggest win of his life.
This Open was the first one in which Woods participated, as a 19-year-old amateur, and the first one in which Phil Mickelson contended (he tied for fourth).
5) 2009, Bethpage Black
The state park on Monday morning looked like it does most mornings during the season: Packed with golfers. In a scene reminiscent of a charity outing's shotgun start, the entire field began at the same time. That was because repeated deluges had kept everyone from finishing Sunday, so everyone resumed on Monday.
6) 1932, Fresh Meadow
Rounding out the front nine
7) 1896, Shinnecock Hills: James Foulis over Horace Rawlins
8) 1902, Garden City Golf Club:Laurie Auchterlonie over Stewart Gardner