John Miller, 26, shot a record score of 63 in the final round and won the 73rd Open Championship with a 72-hole score of 279 at the Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Miller won by one stroke over John Schlee, 34, at 280. Tom Weiskopf, 32, was third with 281. Miller's 279 was only the 10th score under 280 in the history of the Open. He shot rounds of 71, 69, 76 and 63.
The 63 was one stroke under the previous record of 64 shared by three men. It was set first by Lee Mackey, Jr., at the Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pennsylvania in 1950. Tommy Jacobs shot 64 at the Congressional Country Club, Bethesa, Maryland in 1964 and Rives McBee equaled it at the Olympic Country Club, San Francisco, in 1966. Miler's 279 was also the lowest 72-hole score in five Opens at Oakmont. The previous low was 283, set by Ben Hogan in 1953 and matched by both Arnold palmer and Jack Nicklaus in 1962 when Nicklaus defeated Palmer in a playoff.
Four men shared the 54-hole lead, the most ever, and Miller was six strokes behind. Tied at 210 were Julius Boros, 53, Arnold Palmer, 43, John Schlee, 34, and Jerry Heard, 26. Tom Weiskopf was next at 211. Miller, with 216 began the last round an hour ahead of the leaders and with three holes to play, only Weiskopf and Schlee could catch him. Weiskopf needed three birdies and made one, Schlee needed two and made one, although they both had opportunities.
Weiskopf missed a short putt on the 17th, Schlee missed a longer putt at 17 but almost holed a chip shot at 18. Miller had nine birdies and one bogey in his round of 63, and his putt on the 18th hit the hole and spun out. Rain fell on 27 days during May, and Oakmont was it by a heavy rainstorm on the Tuesday before the Open began. Consequently, Oakmont was not so severe a test as it had been for four previous Open Championships.
Gary Player, the 1965 Champion, shot 67 in the first round, equaling the lowest single round for an Open at Oakmont until then. He led by three strokes over Raymond Floyd, Le Trevino, and Jim Colbert. A record 19 players broke par the next day. Gene Borek, a club professional from East Norwich, New York who was admitted into the field as an alternate when Dave Hill withdrew, led scoring with a 65.
Player shot 70 and still led by one stroke over Jim Colbert. Player had 137 for 36 holes; Colbert had 138. At that stage, Miller had 140 and was tied with jack Nicklaus and Bob Charles. A heavy rain fell Saturday morning making Oakmont easier to play. Jerry Heard shot 66, John Schlee 67, Palmer and Boros 68s to cause the four-man tie after three rounds. In the fourth round, Miller birdied the first four holes, bogied the eighth and birdied the ninth to make the turn in 32. He was then one ;under par for 63 holes. Coming in, he birdied the 11th through the 13th, parred the 14th and birdied the 15th to finish five under par for the 72 holes.
Palmer had a chance to go five under if he could birdie the 11th, but he missed a four-foot putt and followed with bogies on the 12th, 13th, and 14th. Schlee had made a remarkable comeback. His tee shot on the first hole had been unplayable and he made 6 on the par-4 hole. Still, he was within one stroke of Miller with one hole to play when his second shot on the 18th hit the green and rolled off the back. He had to chip, and almost made the shot.
The Open has been played at Oakmont five times, and since the golf course has remained basically the same, more Opens have been played over Oakmont than over any other course. Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey has been the site of five Opens, too, but they have been played over at least three different courses. One other record was broken and another tied. Sam Snead, who played in his fourth national Championship at Oakmont (three Opens, and the 1951 PGA Championship), played through his 27th Open, breaking a record he shared with Gene Sarazen.
Nine men broke par for 72 holes, matching the record set at the Canterbury Golf Club, Cleveland, Ohio in 1946. Marvin M. Giles III, Richmond, Virginia, the current Amateur Champion, was low amateur with 290, good for 17th place. In the second round Giles finished 2-3-3-3 against a par of 4-3-4-4 and shot 69.
Entries reached 3,580 and the starting field of 150 was composed of 137 professionals and 13 amateurs. Of the amateurs, Giles and Gary Koch survived the 36-hole cut. Prize money totaled $227,200, a record of which $219,400 was distributed to professionals in the Championship proper and $7,800 in Sectional Qualifying Championships.
Starts - 22
Best Finish - Winner in 1973
Rds - 76
Cuts Made - 16
Top 3 - 1
Top 5 - 3
Top 10 - 8
Top 25 - 10
Avg. - 73.05
Scores In 60s - 10
Rds Under Par - 12