What’s The Biggest Comeback In U.S. Open History? One Golf Legend Staged A Surge Like No Other

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There are plenty of people out there who’d rather spent a few hours watching paint dry than devote a weekend afternoon to watching a golf tournament, but there are plenty of reasons millions of fans of the sport tune in on a weekly basis to see the best players in the world do their thing.

The end of that previous sentence hints at the biggest factor that sums up the appeal of watching a golf tournament; the average hack will never get a chance to play most of the courses that host PGA Tour events, and if they do, they definitely won’t be able to routinely hit the shots the pros are able to pull off with shocking ease.

That’s especially true when you’re talking about the four majors that are appointment viewing for golf fans who eagerly await the chance to see the best of the best attempt to conquer some of the most hallowed courses on the planet each year.

That quartet is bookended by The Masters and The British Open, with the PGA Championship and the ensuing U.S. Open sandwiched in between.

In 2023, Los Angeles Country Club was added to the fairly exclusive list of tracts that have hosted the U.S. Open since the inaugural tournament was held in Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island all the way back in 1895.

That installment marks the 123rd edition of the major tournament that’s produced an incredible amount of drama over the decades—although it’s hard to top what we were treated to when an iconic figure pulled off a comeback for the ages in 1960.

What’s the biggest comeback in the history of the U.S. Open?

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There aren’t many people in the world of golf who can match what Arnold Palmer was able to achieve over the course of an illustrious career where he racked up 62 victories on the PGA Tour (the best for fifth on the all-time list) and a grand total of seven major wins.

Four of those victories came at Augusta National, as Palmer donned the green jacket for the first time in 1958.

That marked the beginning of an impressive run where he added a couple of Claret Jugs to his collection at The British Open thanks to back-to-back victories in 1961 and 1962, and while his lack of a win at the PGA Championship meant he was never able to complete the career Grand Slam, he set himself up for that possibility by topping the field at the U.S. Open in 1960.

However, you could argue he really had no business doing so when you take a look at what transpired over the course of four days at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado that year.

Mike Souchak seemed like the man to beat ahead of the final round, as he sported a two-stroke lead over the rest of the field heading into Sunday at -5 and had the chance to go wire-to-wire after heading into the clubhouse at the top of the leaderboard on Thursday.

Palmer, on the other hand, got off to a relatively slow start; he was one-over after his first round after posting a 72, saw his score remain unchanged with a 71 on Friday, and dropped another stroke with another 72 on Saturday to bring his overall tally to +2.

As a result, it wasn’t a huge stretch to suggest he was basically out of contention when things kicked off on Sunday, as he was seven strokes behind Souchak and a few more behind a field of more viable contenders that included Ben Hogan, a still-amateur Jack Nicklaus (both at -2) and Gary Player (E).

However, Palmer got off to an absolutely sizzling start by recording four consecutive birdies on the first four holes to surge up the leaderboard. He continued to subtract from his score with birdies on 6 and 7, and while he played par golf for the remainder of the round, it was still enough to fend off the rest of the competition en route to a two-stroke win over Nicklaus.

That seven-stroke comeback means Palmer is still the man to beat when it comes to the biggest single-round deficit anyone has been able to overcome at the U.S. Open—and it also proves you should never count anyone out.

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Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.