We have them in all the majors. Not many, but they’ve shown up from time to time.
The U.S. Open has had them, perhaps only three in the past 50 years.
Today we ask the question: Can there possibly be a fluke winner this week at Erin Hills?
Before we answer, let’s take a look at the biggest fluke winners over the past five decades in this oldest of the American majors.
ORVILLE MOODY: Hard to forget the man they called “Sarge.” Like many of his era, Orville Moody served in the military, the U.S. Army to be exact. His big career moment would come in 1969 at the Champions Club outside Houston. The field struggled and Moody slipped in and shot one-over par. He edged Deane Beman, Bob Rossburg and Al Geiberger by a shot.
Moody never won again on the PGA Tour although he had a nice senior career.
Give Sarge the nod as the first “fluke” winner on our list.
MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Absolutely no one saw this guy coming back in 2005 at Pinehurst.
Tiger Woods was in his heyday, dominating and was an overwhelming favorite to win at Pinehurst, perfect layout for Woods, heck, the way he played back then, any course was a perfect layout for El Tigre.
The USGA got its wish (although they’ll never admit to it) and even par was the winning score for Campbell. He edged Woods by two shots and it would prove to be his only major, in fact, he never won a regular PGA Tour event. Campbell would fall in a slump then quietly fade away. He is absolutely the biggest fluke winner in the 2000s.
LUCAS GLOVER: You have to give Glover credit, he won on a very difficult layout — Bethpage Black. He shot four-under to win by a couple of shots over Ricky Barnes, David Duval and who else but Phil Mickelson, yet another runner-up for Lefty. Glover won only one time since then and that came in the 2011 Wells Fargo.
After his win at Wells Fargo, Glover slowly began to fade from the scene and has basically become irrelevant on the PGA Tour. His game has show signs of life but when you look at his body of work with just two regular PGA Tour wins, you have to put him in that “fluke” category. Amazing how one good week can change a career.
So now we go back to the question at hand:
Can there be a fluke winner at Erin Hills?
History says no.
When you look at the past six years, there’s been only one questionable champion and that was Webb Simpson in 2012.
Since Rory McIlroy’s runaway at Congressional back in 2011, Justin Rose stepped up in 2013, Martin Kaymer was the 2014 champion followed by Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay in 2015 then Dustin Johnson with a totally spectacular performance at Oakmont last year.
History says no, the recent winners say no and we’ll have to agree and go with an established player having a great week at Erin Hills.
Still, wouldn’t it be something if Steve Stricker somehow found himself hoisting the trophy on Sunday?