1929: Bobby Jones
Winged Foot was only a few years old when it hosted its first major championship. Jones, by then the premier name in competitive golf around the world, entered as a widespread favorite. Jones led by seven strokes nearly halfway through the final round, but triple bogeys at the 8th and 15th jeopardized that lead.
Needing pars on the three finishing holes merely to tie Al Espinosa, who was already in the clubhouse, Jones pulled his approach on 18 into the left side bunker. His blast rolled to a stop 12 feet from the hole. Jones’ vital par putt inched along its downhill path toward the hole, appearing to die on the edge, only to find a second momentum and collapse miraculously into the cup.
That of course merely set up a 36-hole playoff with Espinosa. But the playoff itself was no contest, the more experienced Jones overwhelming his opponent. Bobby shot 72-69 while Espinosa needed 84 strokes over the morning round and another 80 to get home in the afternoon.
Jones’ 294 winning score bettered the 312.6 four-round field average by 2.13 standard deviations, making his the third most impressive performance by a champion at Winged Foot in history. It was also the most dominant rating ever achieved by Jones in his three Open championships to that date, although he would exceed it one year later with a 2.57 at Interlachen on the way to his grand slam.