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Johnny McDermott Gambled to Double His Prize!

Most people know that Philadelphia’s Johnny McDermott won the 1911 U.S. Open in a three-way playoff at the Chicago Golf Club. On Saturday, June 24, McDermott finished the 72 holes in a tie with Mike Brady and George Simpson for the title, with a total of 307. Because of the “Blue Laws” the playoff was not held until Monday. It is well known that McDermott won the playoff, becoming the first American born golfer to win the U.S. Open, and also the youngest, but here is the rest of the story.

Before the playoff began, a representative from the St. Mungo Mfg. Co. told the three players that the company would match the $300 first place prize if the winner was playing one of their Colonel golf balls. McDermott agreed to change from the Rawlings Black Circle ball to a Colonel ball. On the first hole McDermott’s first two tee shots were out-of-bounds. With his third tee shot he made a birdie four for a score of six. The out-of-bounds penalty at that time was loss of distance only. McDermott also made a bogey on the third hole, but when he holed a short putt for a birdie four on the last hole, he was the United States Open Champion, and $600’s richer.

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Peter C. "Pete" Trenham
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