Recalling other majors at Hazeltine

Well, here we go with another major golf championship at Minnesota's Hazeltine National Golf Club.

I was fortunate to have covered the last three majors conducted there -- the 1970 men's U.S. Open, the 1977 women's U.S. Open and the 1991 men's U.S. Open.

The memories for me aren't necessarily following the golfers who won those three tournaments -- Tony Jacklin in 1970, Hollis Stacy in 1977 and Payne Stewart in 1991.

It's the other stories I remember best.

Like in 1970 when this skinny 19-year-old kid from Rochester caddied for Jacklin, who led the tournament wire-to-wire.


I can still picture him lugging around a bag of clubs that looked bigger than he was.

The kid was Tom Murphy, who went on to become a successful businessman and high school golf coach in Rochester.

There was also this 18-year-old kid the Post-Bulletin drafted to carry around a three-foot aluminum ladder for photographer Merle Dalen.

"It was the worst day of my life," the kid said. "I didn't mind so much that I couldn't see anything but feet and shoes the entire day, but I about died while standing in back of a woman who reeked of this awful smelling perfume."

The kid was John Withers, who probably wouldn't mind as much getting a whiff of that perfume today.

Oh yes, I remember Dave Hill in 1970. He was the golfer who called Hazeltine a cow pasture. I was there when he said it. Here's the exact quote that appeared in my story the next day: "If I had to play this course everyday for fun, I'd find a different game. What this course lacks in 80 acres of corn and some cows."

What people don't realize is that Hill said this after the second round when he shot a three-under-par 69 and was in second place. He went on to finish second in the tournament.

What people also don't realize is that the PGA punished Hill for those remarks. The commissioner fined him $150.


Of course, my favorite golfers were Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. I followed them around. All three barely made the cut and all three finished far out of the running. Player wound up making $975 for the week, Nicklaus $900 and Palmer $850.

Jacklin received only $30,000 for winning. But there wasn't as much money floating around in those days.

Officials of the 1970 U.S. Open said that 30,000 fans were in the Twin Cities that week and they would spend a total of $1.5 million while in the area.

Talking about money -- and this has nothing to do with golf -- the Rochester Barbers Local 753 made a controversial decision that very same week. They raised the price of haircuts from $2.75 to $3.00.

Back to golf, two of the top amateurs in the 1970 U.S. Open were a pair of golfers from Austin, Tex., by the name of Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite Jr.

Rising star appears

The thing I remember most about the 1977 women's U.S. Open is an interview I did with the second-place finisher, a 20-year-old from Roswell, N.M.

She was tied for the lead with Stacy after 12 holes of the final round, but then took a double bogey that knocked her out of contention. She wound up two strokes back.


She was as gracious as could be afterwards, saying her winning the title just wasn't meant to be.

After all, it was her first tournament as a pro. Her name: Nancy Lopez.

That was the tournament that a 17-year-old from La Crescent (Minn.) High School played in as an amateur. Her name : Kathy Williams. She who went on to coach the women's golf team at the University of Minnesota

This was also the tournament where 25-year-old Australian Jan Stephenson was in the news, not for her golf, but for her picture on the cover of Sport Magazine. She posed from the waist up in a provocative dress of all things.

"She's proud to be a sex symbol," her agent Jim Sims told us.

The women's Open didn't pack a big punch in those days. Total attendance for the tournament was only 22,000 and there was a crowd of just 7,300 on hand for the final round. There was no crowding to get to see your favorite player.

The money was paltry, too. Stacy got only $11,000 for winning and Lopez received $7,040.44 for her second place finish.

Stewart wins playoff


This brings us to the 1991 men's U.S. Open. That was the tournament that got struck by lightning. It was a bright, sunny day when the opening round got under way, but one of the worst lightning storms you can imagine hit the course in early afternoon. Six fans were struck by lightning near the No. 10 tee and one was killed.

I had left the safety of the press tent and joined a friend from Rochester on the course when the storm hit.

To make a long story short, I was thankful to be alive after the ordeal we went through to find safety. But more on that Monday when I relive that in another column.

I was still shaking when Stewart won the tournament in an 18-hole playoff with Scott Simpson the following Monday.

I remember watching Stewart, playing in his purple and gold knickers in honor of the Minnesota Vikings. He was such a great guy. I'm glad I got to see him play. Little did we know then that there would be such a tragic end to his life.

So there you have it, the last three majors at Hazeltine. What memories.

Bob Brown is executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at

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