|Dates||June 15–17, 1961|
|Course(s)||Oakland Hills Country Club, South Course|
|Length||6,907 yards (6,316 m)|
|Field||149 players, 57 after cut|
The 1961 U.S. Open was the 61st U.S. Open, held June 15–17 at the South Course of Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Michigan, a suburb north of Detroit. Gene Littler shot a final round 68 for 281 (+1) to win his sole major title, one stroke ahead of runners-up Bob Goalby and Doug Sanders, the 54-hole leader.
Amateur Jack Nicklaus tied for fourth at age 21, the second of his three consecutive top-4 finishes at the U.S. Open. The runner-up the previous year, he turned professional in November and won the first of four U.S. Open titles the following year. Defending champion Arnold Palmer made the cut on the number at 149 (+9), then shot even-par twice and climbed into a tie for 14th place, eight strokes behind Littler. Four-time champion Ben Hogan also tied for 14th, the only time since 1940 that he was outside the top ten at this major. This course was the site of his third title a decade earlier in 1951, a rare successful defense. Hogan did not enter for five years and made his final U.S. Open appearances in 1966 and 1967.
Past champions in the field
Made the cut
|Player||Country||Year(s) won||R1||R2||R3||R4||Total||To par||Finish|
|Ben Hogan||United States||1948, 1950,
|Arnold Palmer||United States||1960||74||75||70||70||289||+9||T14|
|Billy Casper||United States||1959||74||71||73||72||290||+10||T17|
|Tommy Bolt||United States||1958||70||73||73||76||292||+12||T22|
|Jack Fleck||United States||1955||73||71||79||70||293||+13||T27|
|Dick Mayer||United States||1957||75||73||73||77||298||+18||T42|
Missed the cut
|Player||Country||Year(s) won||R1||R2||Total||To par|
|Julius Boros||United States||1952||74||76||150||+10|
|Cary Middlecoff||United States||1949, 1956||74||76||150||+10|
|Lew Worsham||United States||1947||75||75||150||+10|
|Ed Furgol||United States||1954||75||78||153||+13|
Thursday, June 15, 1961
|1||Bobby Brue||United States||69||−1|
|T2||Tommy Bolt||United States||70||Even|
|Bob Goalby||United States|
|T4||Rex Baxter||United States||71||+1|
|Marty Furgol||United States|
|Al Geiberger||United States|
|Paul Harney||United States|
|Ben Hogan||United States|
Friday, June 16, 1961
|T1||Bob Rosburg||United States||72-67=139||−1|
|Doug Sanders||United States||72-67=139|
|T3||Bobby Brue||United States||69-72=141||+1|
|Gardner Dickinson||United States||72-69=141|
|Doug Ford||United States||72-69=141|
|Al Geiberger||United States||71-70=141|
|Gene Littler||United States||73-68=141|
|Eric Monti||United States||74-67=141|
|Bob Goalby||United States||70-72=141|
|Bob Harris||United States||75-67=141|
Saturday, June 17, 1961 (morning)
|1||Doug Sanders||United States||72-67-71=210||Even|
|T2||Jacky Cupit||United States||72-72-67=211||+1|
|Bob Goalby||United States||70-72-69=211|
|Mike Souchak||United States||73-70-68=211|
|T5||Gardner Dickinson||United States||72-69-71=212||+2|
|Doug Ford||United States||72-69-71=212|
|T7||Gene Littler||United States||73-68-72=213||+3|
|Eric Monti||United States||74-67-72=213|
|Bob Rosburg||United States||72-67-74=213|
|T10||Bobby Brue||United States||69-72-73=214||+4|
|Dow Finsterwald||United States||72-71-71=214|
|Al Geiberger||United States||71-70-73=214|
|Jack Nicklaus (a)||United States||75-69-70=214|
- (a) denotes amateur
Saturday, June 17, 1961 (afternoon)
At the start of the final round on Saturday afternoon, Littler was at 213 (+3), three strokes behind 54-hole leader Sanders. After a 34 on the front-nine, Littler tied the lead with a birdie at 11. With a birdie at 13 combined with a Sanders bogey at the same hole, Littler was two strokes ahead. Sanders rebounded with a birdie at 16 to move within one. As Littler and Sanders reached the 18th, Goalby had already posted a 282 total, two off the pace. Littler needed no worse than bogey to get in ahead of Goalby, and that is what he shot, recording his lone bogey of the round for a 68 and a 281 total. Sanders, meanwhile, narrowly missed a birdie putt at 17, then almost chipped in for birdie at the last that would have forced a Sunday playoff. Sanders' putter cost him the championship, as he three-putted five of the last 36 greens. (He later missed a short putt to win The Open Championship in 1970.) Littler was the only player to break par twice.
|Place||Player||Country||Score||To par||Money ($)|
|1||Gene Littler||United States||73-68-72-68=281||+1||14,000|
|T2||Bob Goalby||United States||70-72-69-71=282||+2||6,000|
|Doug Sanders||United States||72-67-71-72=282|
|T4||Jack Nicklaus (a)||United States||75-69-70-70=284||+4||0|
|Mike Souchak||United States||73-70-68-73=284||4,000|
|T6||Dow Finsterwald||United States||72-71-71-72=286||+6||2,616|
|Doug Ford||United States||72-69-71-74=286|
|Eric Monti||United States||74-67-72-73=286|
|T9||Jacky Cupit||United States||72-72-67-76=287||+7||1,750|
|Gardner Dickinson||United States||72-69-71-75=287|
|Gary Player||South Africa||75-72-69-71=287|
- (a) denotes amateur
- "Palmer, Player top Open field". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. June 15, 1961. p. 7-part 2.
- "Open lead's shared by Rosburg, Sanders". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. June 17, 1961. p. 8.
- "U.S. Open history: 1961". USGA. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- Bartlett, Charles (June 18, 1961). "Gene Littler takes Open with 281". Chicago Sunday Tribune. p. 1, sec. 2.
- Weiss, Don (June 18, 1961). "Gene Littler charges to U.S. Open victory". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press.
- Wright, Alfred (June 26, 1961). "Littler eases to a hard win". Sports Illustrated. p. 10.
- Bartlett, Charles (June 17, 1961). "Sanders ties Rosburg in U.S. Open". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, sec. 5.
- ""Little Boy Brue's" putter true; leads Open after scrambling 69". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. June 16, 1961. p. 16.
- Bartlett, Charles (June 16, 1961). "Bobby Brue takes Open lead". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, sec. 4.
|Major Championships||Succeeded by|
1961 Open Championship