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The US Open, T.C. Chen, and Architects Jim Engh and The Nugents

The year was 1985 – perhaps the most uninspiring US Open of our generation. An unknown Taiwanese named T.C.Chen had dominated the leader board at Oakland Hills for three days and had a five shot lead four holes into Sunday.

Then disaster struck. Deep in greenside rough at the fifth, Chen double-hit his wedge for a two-stroke penalty and an eight. Chen collapsed and Andy North backed into a one-shot win over such superstars as Dave Barr, Chip Beck and “Two-chip” Chen as he now is known to history. Good thing North won – watching those four guys in a Monday playoff would have been right up there getting dragged over carpet tacks and dipped in rubbing alcohol.

As usual at the Open, the course was the real star – an aspect I do like about the controversial setup…just sometimes the course they pick fails to live up to the hype. (See “Fields, Olympia”) Since the USGA and Pinehurst kept Tournament set-up director Tom Meeks’ dark side locked in the trunk of his car, we were fine this year.

BY the way, the now infamous divot was picked up by two young teens…who later grew up to be legendary golf course architects. Hats off to Jim Engh and Tim Nugent for grabbing Chen’s divot.

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