Past U.S. Amateurs at Pebble Beach Golf Links

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Black and white image of past amateur tournament at Pebble Beach

Only eight golf courses have hosted the U.S. Amateur more than twice. When the Amateur returns to Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2018, it will be the fifth time it has been played here. Why so often?

“For the same reason we keep trying to bring the U.S. Open there every 8 to 10 years,” says United States Golf Association’s Craig Smith (the USGA oversees the U.S. Amateur). “There’s just no golf course in the country like Pebble Beach.”

Here is a look at the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links:

The 1929 U.S. Amateur

Bobby Jones comes into this tournament as the defending champion and the greatest amateur of the day. A 1929 victory will mean three Amateur Championships in a row—a record Jones is widely expected to set.

Johnny Goodman, a young amateur from Omaha, Nebraska, does not share this expectation, however, and quickly finds himself three up on Jones after three holes in the first round of match play. The two battle throughout the day, with Goodman the unlikely one-up leader when they come to 18.

The pair halves the hole and the mighty Robert Tyre Jones finds himself knocked out of contention in the first round. Minnesota’s Harrison R. Johnston eventually defeats Dr. O.F. Willing for the title in 1929; it will take almost 70 years and a young golfer named Tiger Woods to finally capture three Amateurs in a row.

The 1947 U.S. Amateur

In a tournament that inspires then-USGA president Charles W. Littlefield to suggest, “Let’s hold ’em all here,” Robert “Skee” Riegel and Johnny Dawson outlast a tough field to make it into Sunday’s final. Trailing well into the afternoon, Dawson closes the gap with impressive putting, pulling even with Riegel as the round wound down.

And then…44-year-old Dawson simply grows tired. His drive on 17 goes bad, his pitch never gets close and the championship slips away. Skee Riegel wins the 1947 National Amateur Championship, 2 and 1.

The 1961 U.S. Amateur

One year after claiming the low score in the world Amateur Team Championship, and two years after his first National Amateur victory, Jack Nicklaus comes to Pebble Beach as the favorite for the 1961 National Amateur Championship. He doesn’t disappoint.

The final round sees Nicklaus face off against H. Dudley Wysong, Jr., a McKinney, Texas amateur who had been taught by Byron Nelson. Nicklaus is simply overwhelming—defeating Wysong 8 and 6, and posting a 24-under-par for the 136 holes he played in the Amateur. It is his first victory at the course Nicklaus has called his favorite ever since.

The 1999 U.S. Amateur

The U.S. Amateur Championship returns to Pebble Beach for its 99th playing. Competitors face the ultimate challenge as the USGA sets up both Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill for the medal rounds, before qualifiers play matches on a Pebble Beach Golf Links already prepared for the 2000 U.S. Open.

Amateurs who are now among today’s Tour players include Charley Hoffman, Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Bryce Molder, Rob Oppenheim, Adam Scott, Nicholas Thompson, Camilo Villegas and Johnson Wagner.

From a strong field, two finalists emerge: South Korea’s Sung Yoon Kim and Tennessee’s David Gossett. Having already achieved national No. 1 rankings in both Junior and Collegiate golf, Gosset will add the No. 1 Amateur title in decisive fashion. His 9 and 8 triumph is the largest margin of victory since 1980.