No amateur has won it since Johnny Goodman in 1933. But you never know when it could happen.
That is one of the many charms of the U.S. Open and why a record field of 4,897 golfers around the nation is after the most coveted prize in golf.
"That is the purpose of the championship," said Patrick Leahy, public information representative for the U.S. Golf Association. "Any one of the people has the opportunity."
A field of 3,039 pros and 1.763 amateurs (with handicaps of two or lower) is attempting to qualify this week for the Open at Cherry Hills in Denver, June 15-18.
Locally, 117 will vie tomorrow at Argyle and Manor for 13 spots. The low 13 scorers advance to Bethesda June 5 for sectional qualifying.
Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper are among 43 players exempt from any qualifying. Others are exempt from the first phase, but not the sectionals.
Yes, anyone can win, even pro quarterback commentator John Brodie, the late Bing Crosby's son Nathanial, and former Yankee Pitcher Ralph Terry, have entered.
But it will likely be a tournament-hardened pro, in the mold of defending champion Hubert Green, who will prevail.
Of the last nine champions, Green, Jerry Pate, Lou Graham, Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Jack Nickalus, Lee Trevino (twice) and Orville Moody, only Moody fits the Rocky role of the virtual unknown.
Even on television, the gnawing Open pressure was evident in the old army sargeant's demeanor, on the final green at the champions course in Houston in 1969. He rapped in the winning 14-inch putt, turned his golf hat to the side and heaved a huge, sweaty sigh of relief.
Trevino was relatively unknown when he broke through to win in 1969 at Rochester, but the swashbuckling Texas hustler had given hints of his ability by finishing fifth the previous Open at Baltusrol.
Other longshots to win the Open were Jack Fleck in 1955, Tony Manero in 1936 - and remember Jacky Cupit, who tied Julius Boros and Arnold Palmer in 1963 before losing the play-off to Boros.
If you think you're getting old, maybe you're right. Several sons of former U.S. Open champions are set for Open qualifying tomorrow.
Jack Nicklaus II, 16, a high school varsity golfer, will try at Lauderhill, Fla. Jack won the Open in 1962, 1967 and 1972.
The Boros boys - Jack, 26, Gary, 17 and Julius Jr., 21 - are teeing it up.
Rick Worsham, 31, assistant to head pro and 1947 winner Lew at Oakmont, will try in Pittsburgh.
Entries have reopened for the Washington Area Amateur Championship Invitational, rescheduled for June 9-11 after being rained out this week-end at Duke of Marlborough. For information, call 952-1300.
The new Upper Marlboro (Md.) course was devilish in last year's inaugural as only two players broke 80 for all three days. The watery 520-yard 17th hole proved especially monstrous, as the more than 80 contestants average 8.3 strokes there.
Algonkian, near Sterling Va., will be the site tomorrow and Tuesday of the Virginia State AAA high school tournament. Richard Montefusco of Madison was low in the recent Northern Regional. Algonkian will be open to the public, at 10 a.m., following the tee-off the high schoolers.
President Jack Reed of the District of Columbia Golf Association and seven other representatives making up the President Council will recommend in November that the DCGA expand to include outlying clubs in Baltimore, Annapolis and Frederick. The proposal would increase the radius of DCGA jurisdiction from 30 to 60 miles from the D.C. line, according to association spokesman Joe Gambatese.