1981 US Open: Graham's Ballstriking Clinic

David Graham of Australia lifts the trophy with his wife after winning the 1981 US Open at Merion Golf Club
1981 US Open winner David Graham (with his wife) shows off the trophy. Brian Morgan/Getty Images

Hitting fairways and greens, that's the simple method David Graham used to win the 1981 U.S. Open. Graham trailed third-round leader George Burns by three strokes entering the final round, but then shot 67 to Burns' 73 to win by three. Burns shared second place with Bill Rogers.

Graham missed the first fairway to start his final round (but birdied the hole anyway), then hit every fairway the rest of the way.

And every green. He wasn't putting great, missing several good opportunities along the way, but Graham passed Burns with a birdie on the 14th hole.

When you hit every fairway but one, and every green, in a U.S. Open round, you are doing something special. Graham opened the final round with consecutive birdies on the first two holes, cutting Burns' lead to one.

Burns had a 1-shot lead through the front nine, but a bogey on the 10th dropped him into a tie with Graham. Then Graham birdied the 14th to move in front for good.

Graham became the first Australian golfer to win the U.S. Open. It was his second major, after the 1979 PGA Championship, and the seventh of his eight career wins on the PGA Tour.

The first-round leader was Jim Thorpe, who became the first African-American golfer to lead a U.S. Open since John Shippen shared the lead in 1896. Chi Chi Rodriguez finished tied for sixth, his best showing in any major and one of just four Top 10 finishes in majors for Rodriguez.

Defending champ Jack Nicklaus was two off the lead after 36 holes, but fell five back after the third round and finished tied for sixth place.

1981 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1981 U.S. Open golf tournament played on the par-70 East Course of Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania (a-amateur):

David Graham68-68-70-67--273$55,000
Bill Rogers70-68-69-69--276$24,650
George Burns69-66-68-73--276$24,650
John Cook68-70-71-70--279$16,200
John Schroeder71-68-69-71--279$16,200
Lon Hinkle69-71-70-70--280$9,920
Sammy Rachels70-71-69-70--280$9,920
Jack Nicklaus69-68-71-72--280$9,920
Frank Conner71-72-69-68--280$9,920
Chi Chi Rodriguez68-73-67-72--280$9,920
Isao Aoki72-71-71-67--281$5,500
Jim Thorpe66-73-70-72--281$5,500
Ben Crenshaw70-75-64-72--281$5,500
Lanny Wadkins71-68-72-71--282$3,616
Mark Hayes71-70-72-69--282$3,616
Calvin Peete73-72-67-70--282$3,616
Bruce Lietzke70-71-71-71--283$2,950
Jack Renner68-71-72-72--283$2,950
Curtis Strange71-69-72-71--283$2,950
Mike Reid71-72-69-72--284$2,550
Larry Nelson70-73-69-72--284$2,550
Tom Kite73-74-67-70--284$2,550
Johnny Miller69-71-73-72--285$2,350
Tom Watson70-69-73-73--285$2,350
Scott Simpson72-67-71-75--285$2,350
Gary Player72-72-71-71--286$2,100
Bruce Devlin73-71-70-72--286$2,100
Jerry Pate70-69-72-75--286$2,100
Rik Massengale70-75-70-71--286$2,100
Craig Stadler71-76-68-71--286$2,100
Tommy Valentine69-68-72-77--286$2,100
Jim Colbert71-69-77-69--286$2,100
Lee Elder72-74-71-70--287$1,827
Billy Kratzert69-69-73-76--287$1,827
Greg Norman71-67-73-76--287$1,827
J.C. Snead67-77-73-70--287$1,827
Peter Jacobsen71-74-71-72--288$1,660
Forrest Fezler70-72-71-75--288$1,660
Raymond Floyd75-72-68-73--288$1,660
Hubert Green69-76-71-72--288$1,660
Roger Maltbie71-74-74-70--289$1,570
Seve Ballesteros73-69-72-75--289$1,570
Andy North73-74-72-71--290$1,453
Keith Fergus74-71-73-72--290$1,453
Tim Simpson70-75-74-71--290$1,453
D.A. Weibring71-72-72-75--290$1,453
Leonard Thompson75-71-74-70--290$1,453
Thomas Gray75-72-73-70--290$1,453
Mike Peck76-68-71-75--290$1,453
Bobby Wadkins70-72-71-77--290$1,453
Mick Soli77-69-72-72--290$1,453
Bob Ackerman68-78-71-73--290$1,453
Steve Melnyk70-75-73-73--291$1,350
Mark McNulty72-69-75-75--291$1,350
Jim Nelford74-73-69-75--291$1,350
Gary Hallberg70-77-69-75--291$1,350
Bobby Nichols71-71-78-71--291$1,350
Greg Powers73-73-72-74--292$1,310
Ray Carrasco74-71-73-74--292$1,310
Hale Irwin72-75-73-72--292$1,310
Joe Hager74-73-77-68--292$1,310
George Archer76-69-70-77--292$1,310
Jim Simons78-69-67-78--292$1,310
Charlie Gibson75-72-71-75--293$1,300
Bill Pelham73-73-73-75--294$1,300
Morris Hatalsky71-76-72-75--294$1,300
a-Joey Rassett70-70-78-76--294 
Dave Barr74-72-73-76--295$1,300
Mark Lye70-72-76-78--296$1,300
Kip Byrne74-72-79-75--300$1,300

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