|Dates||June 17–20, 1976|
|Course(s)||Atlanta Athletic Club,|
|Length||7,015 yards (6,415 m)|
|Field||150, 66 after cut|
The 1976 U.S. Open was the 76th U.S. Open, held June 17–20 at the Highlands Course of the Atlanta Athletic Club in Duluth, Georgia, a suburb northeast of Atlanta. Tour rookie Jerry Pate won his only major championship, two strokes ahead of runners-up Al Geiberger and Tom Weiskopf.
John Mahaffey, who lost the U.S. Open in a playoff the year before, took the lead with a 68 in the second round. He followed that up with a 69 in the third round on Saturday for a two-stroke lead over Jerry Pate after 54 holes, with Geiberger three back and Weiskopf four back. The gap was still two strokes after fourteen holes, but Pate hit a one-iron close and birdied the par-3 15th; and when Mahaffey bogeyed 16, the two were tied. Mahaffey three-putted for bogey on 17 and Pate took a one-stroke lead as Mahaffey fell into a tie for second with Geiberger and Weiskopf, both in the clubhouse with 279.
Both Mahaffey and Pate found the rough off the 18th tee. Mahaffey, behind by a shot and trying for birdie, hit his approach shot into the water fronting the green and made bogey, and fell into a tie for fourth. Having a better lie in the rough, Pate gambled that he could clear the water and then hit one of the most memorable shots in U.S. Open history. His 5-iron approach from 191 yards (175 m) flew directly on to the green and stopped three feet (0.9 m) from the hole, and he made the birdie putt for a two-stroke victory.
The U.S. Amateur champion two years earlier in 1974, Pate was only 22 in 1976 and appeared to have a bright future ahead of him, but shoulder injuries significantly shortened his career. He won seven more PGA Tour tournaments, the last in 1982, and finished runner-up in two additional majors in the late 1970s.
Future champion Fuzzy Zoeller made his major championship debut at this U.S. Open and finished in 38th place. Mike Reid, a 21-year-old amateur, led by three shots after the first round, but a second-round 81 dashed any hope of an amateur champion. He shared low-amateur honors with John Fought at 300 (+20).
Jack Nicklaus finished tied for eleventh and saw his streak of 13 consecutive top-10s in majors come to an end. He began a new streak and finished in the top-10 in the next nine majors. Only Harry Vardon made more consecutive major top-10s when he made sixteen in a row – fifteen Open Championships (1894–1908) and the U.S. Open in 1900.
This was the first year that players were allowed to have their own caddies at the U.S. Open. The other majors and some PGA Tour events had traditionally disallowed players from using their own caddies. The Masters required club caddies from Augusta National through 1982.
Atlanta Athletic Club, Highlands Course
Past champions in the field
Made the cut
|Player||Country||Year(s) won||R1||R2||R3||R4||Total||To par||Finish|
|Johnny Miller||United States||1973||74||72||69||71||286||+6||10|
|Jack Nicklaus||United States||1962, 1967, 1972||74||70||75||68||287||+7||T11|
|Gary Player||South Africa||1965||72||77||73||70||292||+12||T23|
|Hale Irwin||United States||1974||75||72||75||71||293||+13||T26|
|Lou Graham||United States||1975||75||74||72||73||294||+14||T28|
|Gene Littler||United States||1961||76||75||71||78||300||+20||T50|
|Arnold Palmer||United States||1960||75||75||75||75||300||+20||T50|
Missed the cut
|Player||Country||Years won||R1||R2||Total||To par|
|Billy Casper||United States||1959, 1966||81||77||158||+18|
Thursday, June 17, 1976
Amateur Mike Reid, age 21, grabbed the first round lead with a three-under 67, while the rest of the field posted no better than par. Several professionals voiced their concerns over the playing conditions of the course.
|1||Mike Reid (a)||United States||67||−3|
|T2||Raymond Floyd||United States||70||E|
|Rod Funseth||United States|
|Al Geiberger||United States|
|John Mahaffey||United States|
|Rik Massengale||United States|
|T7||Butch Baird||United States||71||+1|
|Terry Diehl||United States|
|Don January||United States|
|Lyn Lott||United States|
|Mike Morley||United States|
|Jerry Pate||United States|
Friday, June 18, 1976
|1||John Mahaffey||United States||70-68=138||−2|
|2||Al Geiberger||United States||70-69=139||−1|
|T3||Ben Crenshaw||United States||72-68=140||E|
|Rod Funseth||United States||70-70=140|
|Jerry Pate||United States||71-69=140|
|T6||Butch Baird||United States||71-71=142||+2|
|Hubert Green||United States||72-70=142|
|Lyn Lott||United States||71-71=142|
|Mike Morley||United States||71-71=142|
|J. C. Snead||United States||73-69=142|
Saturday, June 19, 1976
Mahaffey kept the lead with a 69, two strokes ahead of Pate, with Al Geiberger and Tom Weiskopf in third and fourth place. After nine holes, Mahaffey opened up a six-stroke lead but struggled on the back nine and, with Pate making a remarkable eagle on 12, the lead was cut to two when the day ended.
|1||John Mahaffey||United States||70-68-69=207||−3|
|2||Jerry Pate||United States||71-69-69=209||−1|
|3||Al Geiberger||United States||70-69-71=210||E|
|4||Tom Weiskopf||United States||73-70-68=211||+1|
|T5||Ben Crenshaw||United States||72-68-72=212||+2|
|Rod Funseth||United States||70-70-72=212|
|Lyn Lott||United States||71-71-70=212|
|Mike Morley||United States||71-71-70=212|
|T9||Butch Baird||United States||71-71-71=213||+3|
|Hubert Green||United States||72-70-71=213|
|J. C. Snead||United States||73-69-71=213|
Sunday, June 20, 1976
|Place||Player||Country||Score||To par||Money ($)|
|1||Jerry Pate||United States||71-69-69-68=277||−3||42,000|
|T2||Al Geiberger||United States||70-69-71-69=279||−1||18,000|
|Tom Weiskopf||United States||73-70-68-68=279|
|T4||Butch Baird||United States||71-71-71-67=280||E||11,250|
|John Mahaffey||United States||70-68-69-73=280|
|6||Hubert Green||United States||72-70-71-69=282||+2||9,500|
|7||Tom Watson||United States||74-72-68-70=284||+4||8,500|
|T8||Ben Crenshaw||United States||72-68-72-73=285||+5||7,000|
|Lyn Lott||United States||71-71-70-73=285|
|10||Johnny Miller||United States||74-72-69-71=286||+6||5,500|
Cumulative tournament scores, relative to par
- "76th U.S. Open: course". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 17, 1976. p. 14.
- "U.S. Open history: 1976". USGA. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Jenkins, Dan (June 28, 1976). "You were great, Jerry Pate". Sports Illustrated. p. 18.
- Husar, John (June 21, 1976). "Rookie Pate beats odds, wins Open". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 6.
- Parascenzo, Marino (June 21, 1976). "Tour rookie Pate charges to victory". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 13.
- "Pate decides 'to go for it,' charges to victory in Open". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 21, 1976. p. 2B.
- Warters, Jim (June 20, 1976). "Mahaffey manages 2-shot lead". Palm Beach Post. p. E1.
- Thomson, Ian (August 11, 2011). "Jerry Pate has a fond recollection of his 1976 U.S. Open victory at site of this week's PGA". Birmingham News. (Alabama). Retrieved April 14, 2014.
- Warters, Jim (June 21, 1976). "Rookie Pate captures U.S. Open". Palm Beach Post. p. D1.
- "Open golfers to pick own caddies in 1976". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. November 15, 1975. p. 17.
- "Break for some". Rome News-Tribune. (Georgia). Associated Press. January 18, 1976. p. 3B.
- Loomis, Tom (April 6, 1973). "Chi Chi prefers own caddy". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. p. 30.
- "Westchester winner may bypass events". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). Associated Press. August 26, 1974. p. 1B.
- "Touring golf pros prefer their own caddies". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. May 5, 1974. p. 76.
- "Tour caddies at Augusta?". Times-News. (Hendersonville, North Carolina). November 12, 1982. p. 14.
- Wade, Harless (April 6, 1983). "Tradition bagged at Masters". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. C1.
- Anderson, Dave (April 10, 1983). "New Masters caddies collide". Sunday Star-News. (Wilmington, North Carolina). p. 6D.
- "1976 U.S. Open". databasegolf.com. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
- "Amateur grabs lead while pros air gripes". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 18, 1976. p. 2D.
- "Mike Reid tops Open". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. June 18, 1976. p. 25.
- "A surprising pacesetter". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 18, 1976. p. 2D.
- "'Chicken' Mahaffey turns tiger in Open". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 19, 1976. p. 1B.
- "Reid falls from U.S. Open pace". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). Associated Press. June 19, 1976. p. 1D.
- "Mahaffey up by two after battling darkness". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 20, 1976. p. 1B.
|Major Championships||Succeeded by|
1976 Open Championship