US Open Scoring Records: Golfers Going Low

What are the best scores ever posted in the U.S. Open golf championship? Below are the tournament scoring records for 72 holes, 72 holes in relation to par, 18 holes and nine holes, the list of every golfer who's held the 72-hole record in tournament history.

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72-Hole Scoring Record at the US Open

Rory McIlroy plays an iron approach during the 2011 US Open tournament.
Rory McIlroy during the final round of his record-setting 2011 US Open victory. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The lowest total score in tournament history is 268, set by Rory McIlroy in 2011 at Congressional Country Club.

McIlroy opened the 2011 tournament 65-66, a 131 total following the second round. McIlroy then shot 68 in the third round and 69 in the final round, becoming the fifth golfer in U.S. Open history to score under par in all four rounds.

And that produced a total score of 268, lowering by four strokes the previous 72-hole record.

In 2014, Martin Kaymer shot 130 over the first two rounds, one better than McIlroy's 2011 performance. But Kaymer slowed a bit on the weekend with rounds of 72-69 for a 271 total, second-best.

These are the top 72-hole scores ever in the U.S. Open:

  • 268 - Rory McIlroy, 2011
  • 271 - Martin Kaymer, 2014; Gary Woodland, 2019
  • 272 - Jack Nicklaus, 1980; Lee Janzen, 1993; Tiger Woods, 2000; Jim Furyk, 2003; Brooks Koepka, 2017
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Most Strokes Under Par in the US Open

Tiger Woods with caddie Steve Williams at the 2000 US Open tournament.
At the 2000 US Open tournament, Tiger Woods became the first golfer to finish in double digits under par. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The same year Rory McIlroy set the 72-hole stroke total, he also set the tournament record for most strokes under par. Congressional was set up as a par-71, so McIlroy's 268 stroke total was 16-under par.

And that lowered the previous record by four. Until Tiger Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open at 12-under 272, no golfer in tournament history had finished double digits under par.

And until 2017, McIlroy and Woods were still the only golfers to finish double-digits under-par in a U.S. Open. But that year, Brooks Koepka tied McIlroy's record at 16-under, and several others finished 10-or-more under-par, too..

These are the lowest final scores in relation to par in U.S. Open history:

  • 16-under - Rory McIlroy, 2011
  • 16-under - Brooks Koepka, 2017
  • 13-under - Gary Woodland, 2019
  • 12-under - Tiger Woods, 2000
  • 12-under - Hideki Matsuyama, 2017
  • 12-under - Brian Harmon, 2017
  • 11-under - Tommy Fleedwood, 2017
  • 10-under - Xander Schauffele, 2017
  • 10-under - Bill Haas, 2017
  • 10-under - Rickie Fowler, 2017
  • 10-under - Brooks Koepka, 2019

McIlroy also holds the tournament record for most strokes under par at any time. He reached 17-under in the final round in 2011 before finishing at 16-under.

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18-Hole Scoring Record

Golfer Johnny Miller in 1976
Johnny Miller was the first golfer to shoot 63 in a US Open round. Bettmann/Getty Images

The single-round scoring record in the U.S. Open is 63, a score achieved by only six golfers in tournament history:

  • Johnny Miller in the final round in 1973;
  • Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in the first round in 1980;
  • Vijay Singh in the second round in 2003;
  • Justin Thomas in the third round in 2017;
  • Tommy Fleetwood in the final round in 2018.

Miller and Nicklaus won their tournaments. Miller's 63 is one of the most-famous - and one of the best - rounds of golf ... ever. Check out our tournament page on the 1973 U.S. Open for more about that round.

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9-Hole Scoring Record

Vijay Singh pictured at the 2003 HSBC World Match Play Championship
Vijay Singh in 2003, the year he tied the US Open's 9-hole scoring record. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Three golfers in tournament history have carded a score of 29 on either the front nine or the back nine during a U.S. Open. The two who've done it most recently - Vijay Singh and Louis Oosthuizen - are major championship winners.

But the first golfer to do it was Neal Lancaster, who won one tournament in his PGA Tour career. Lancaster shot 29 over his second nine at Shinnecock Hills in 1995.

Then, the very next year, Lancaster did it again! He shot 29 over his second nine at Oakland Hills in 1996.

It's not too surprising for a relatively little-known golfer to hold a major championship record. But in the entire history of the U.S. Open, until 2003 when Singh did it, only one golfer had broken 30 for nine holes. It was Lancaster, and he'd done it twice.

The 29s-for-nine at the U.S. Open:

  • Neal Lancaster, 1995
  • Neal Lancaster, 1996
  • Vijay Singh, 2003
  • Louis Oosthuizen, 2015

See US Open 18-hole scoring record for more.

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Evolution of the 72-Hole US Open Scoring Record

Ben Hogan hits a drive at the 1948 Hershey Open
Ben Hogan in 1948. Bettmann/Getty Images

The first three times the U.S. Open was played, it was only 36 holes long. In 1898, it expanded to 72 holes. So when Fred Herd became the first winner at 72 holes, his 328 winning score became the tournament scoring record.

Willie Smith lowered that to 315 one year later; then Harry Vardon to 313 in 1900. And the record has kept falling, leaving us with today's record, the 268 by McIlroy in 2011.

Here is the list of every golfer who has held the 72-hole U.S. Open scoring record:

  • 328 - Fred Herd, 1898
  • 315 - Willie Smith, 1899
  • 313 - Harry Vardon, 1900
  • 307 - Laurie Auchterlonie, 1902
  • 303 - Willie Anderson, 1904
  • 295 - Alex Smith, 1906
  • 290 - George Sargent, 1909
  • 286 - Chick Evans Jr., 1916
  • 282 - Tony Manero, 1936
  • 281 - Ralph Guldahl, 1937
  • 276 - Ben Hogan, 1948
  • 275 - Jack Nicklaus, 1967
  • 272 - Jack Nicklaus, 1980
  • 272 - Lee Janzen, 1993
  • 272 - Tiger Woods, 2000
  • 272 - Jim Furyk, 2003
  • 268 - Rory McIlroy, 2011

Hogan was the first golfer to finish below 280, in 1948, and held the record until 1967. That year, Nicklaus lowered it. Then Nicklaus lowered his own record in 1980 - a score that was tied, but not bettered until 2011. So Nicklaus held or shared the tournament scoring record every year from 1967 until 2011.

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