U.S. Open History: The Legacy Of The Prestigious Grand Slam Event

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The 112th U.S. Open gets underway this week. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will both be trying to take their place in history.

The prestigious U.S. Open tournament will get underway on Thursday at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. A stacked field of the world's best golfers will be competing to take home the trophy in the second of four annual Grand Slam events.This will be the 112th U.S. Open in history, and the history of the tournament is obviously a storied one.

All previous winners of the U.S. Open are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, as well as all golfers who completed 72 holes in the 2011 edition. For most others, they were required to win a regional tournament in order to qualify for a berth in the U.S. Open. Many amateurs who have fulfilled the amateur requirements will also be participating.

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The Olympic Club -- and the U.S. Open in general -- is known for being quite difficult, particularly its front nine. With a par of 70, it is unlikely to see a leader come in well under in any round.

Rory McIlroy is the defending champion, having won the 2011 U.S. Open by a record-breaking cumulative score of 16-under and besting second-place finisher Jason Day by a whopping eight strokes. He will be back this year and will attempt to make it two in a row. If he does, he'll become just the fourth golfer to ever win the U.S. Open in consecutive years.

Tiger Woods has won the U.S. Open three times. Woods enters this year's event as the odds-on favorite to win. If he does so, he will enter into a tie with four other golfers for the most career U.S. Open titles, a group that includes Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus.

The tournament began in 1895, when the United States Golf Competition staged a 36-hole tournament consisting of 10 professional golfers and one amateur. 21-year-old Harold Rawlins became the first U.S. Open champion by shooting a combined 173 over the two rounds.

Bobby Jones really helped the popularity of the U.S. Open take off, as he won his four titles over the span of eight years between 1923 and 1930. The most recent amateur to win the tournament was John Goodman in 1933.

While McIlroy's 268 is the lowest score for a modern U.S. Open, four golfers share second place on that list: Woods, Nicklaus, Jim Furyk and Lee Janzen have all shot a 272 in the tournament. Nicklaus did it twice: in 1967 and in 1980. McIlroy's 16-under is the most strokes under par through 72 holes in the tournament, easily besting the 12-under Woods put up in 2000 at Pebble Beach.

Who will write their name in the history books this year? Golf fans are anxious to find out.

For all your news and updates in the run up to the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic, visit SB Nation's dedicated golf hub. Be sure to head over to USOpen.com for even more coverage from the event.

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