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A series of surprises

The U.S. Opens staged at the Olympic Club have been as different and unpredictable as any national championships held anywhere. One thing ties them all together, though, is that the favorites have almost never come out on top.

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A series of surprises
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A series of surprises

The Lake Course at the Olympic Club hosted its first U.S. Open Championship in 1955. This would be the last time Byron Nelson would play in a U.S. Open and one of first times David would beat Goliath in the golf world.

A municipal golf professional from Iowa by the name of Jack Fleck was able to upset the favorite, Ben Hogan, in a playoff. This denied Hogan his fifth U.S Open Championship and has gone down as one of the greatest upsets in golf history. Over the course of four days, only seven golfers had sub-par rounds -- and Fleck posted three of his own.

Arnold Palmer dominated 1966 U.S. Open, leading by seven strokes with only nine holes to play. After shooting 32 on the front nine, though, Palmer began to unravel on the back. He had to make a difficult up and down on the last hole just to get into a playoff with Billy Casper after both players finished 72 holes at 278.

The next day's 18-hole playoff was almost a replay of the final round for Palmer. After nine holes, Palmer held a two-stroke lead, but he would go on to lose six shots to Casper over the last eight holes of the match. As a result, Casper went on to win by four strokes, handing Palmer his third playoff loss in the national championship.

Tom Watson held the third-round lead at the 1987 U.S. Open with nine players lurking within three strokes. Watson struggled out of the gate, though, bogeying three of his first five holes. Watson finished the front nine with a one-shot lead, but the final nine holes would prove to be a see-saw battle between Watson and Scott Simpson.

Simpson eventually took the lead with a 9-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole. Watson needed to make a 45-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to force a playoff, but in the end, the favorite was defeated by one stroke.

The 1998 U.S. Open Championship left the legacy of Hogan, Palmer and Watson hanging over Payne Stewart as he began Sunday with a four-shot lead. Stewart had led the first three rounds of the championship, but an old nemesis, Lee Janzen, was on his tail the whole way.

Janzen had overtaken Stewart at the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol Golf Club and in 1998, it would be no different. Stewart was unable to break par in the final round, shooting 74, and Janzen earned the win with his 68. In capturing his second Open title, Janzen became the second person to come back to win from seven strokes in a U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.

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