John McDermott is finally getting his due over a hundred years after he became the first American to win the U.S. Open national golf championship. Winning at the age of 19, he also remains the youngest golfer to do so.
After winning the 1910 Philadelphia Open, the 1911 U.S. Open, the 1911 Philadelphia Open, the 1912 U.S. Open, the 1913 Philadelphia Open, the 1913 Western Open, the 1913 Shawnee invitational, and being the first American to place among the leaders of the British Open, McDermott (right) was the best American golfer, on his way to being the best in the world.
But after these triumphs, McDermott had an undiagnosed nervous breakdown and didn’t play in a tournament after 1914, though he continued to play quietly until his clubs were stolen.
In and out of asylums for the rest of his life, he attended the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania just weeks before his death.
When Hollywood put The Greatest Game on the silver screen, McDermott is wrongfully and rudely portrayed as a stereotypical Mick – a tall, gangly red-haired buffoon with a mustache. And that’s how it seemed he would be remembered until Pete Trenham, John Burnes, and Jeff Gold stepped up to the tee and took some swings for him.
On the 100th anniversary of his tremendous feats on October 9 last year, McDermott was posthumously inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, an honor that was accepted by Jim Faser, whose family owned the Atlantic City Country Club where McDermott was the pro. Pete Trenham helped dedicate the plaque.
This article originally appeared on Bill Kelly’s website, kellysgolfhistory.blogspot.com.