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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Oakland wait finally over
Oakland Hills Country Club
Oakland Hills has waited 64 years to fulfil its Ryder Cup destiny.

As well as eight major championships, the Detroit course also boasts the staging of an unofficial Ryder Cup.

But the 1940 all-American game that filled a war-enforced gap was hardly a fitting decoration for a course nicknamed 'The Monster'.

The 2004 'monster' measures a gruesome 7,077 yards and suitors from both sides of the Atlantic will find it a tough beast to tame.

Six US Opens, two USPGAs, two US Senior Opens and one US Women's Amateur championship have graced Oakland Hills.

But the cancellation of the 1940 Ryder Cup at the course has left a long-standing gap waiting to be filled.

Walter Hagen's American team had already been selected for the scheduled seventh staging of the tournament.

The Ryder Cup holders took on a team of fellow Americans who had been overlooked for the 1940 matches, captained by Gene Sarazen and including Ben Hogan among their ranks.

For the record, 'Hagen's Ryder Cuppers' won 7-5 in a series which raised more than $10,000 for The Red Cross.

But the sense of anticipation that hung over Oakland Hills before the Second World War forced one of its finest honours to be cancelled is only now about to be satisfied.

OAKLAND HILLS MAJOR WINNERS
1924 US Open: Cyril Walker
1937 US Open: Ralph Guldahl
1951 US Open: Ben Hogan
1961 US Open: Gene Littler
1972 US PGA: Gary Player
1979 US PGA: David Graham
1985 US Open: Andy North
1996 US Open: Steve Jones
England's Cyril Walker won the first US Open at the course in 1924, only five years after it had officially been opened.

But it was the infamous 1951 championship which really put the course on the golf map.

Robert Trent Jones was hired to remodel Donald Ross's original design, with the intention of making it the most difficult challenge anywhere.

Fairness did not come in to it and that tournament earned Oakland Hills its nickname as the first-round average score was a hideous 78.4.

The legendary Hogan emerged victorious with a final-round 67 on a course where no player had previously broken 70. Andy North was another to claim the US Open title by taming the monster in 1985.

The legend of Oakland Hills is founded on two dramatic ridges that run across the stretch of land 15 miles north of Detroit.

Ross's original design remains in tact, with two nine-hole loops, each starting and finishing at the clubhouse.

The first loop runs clockwise while the second follows almost a figure-of-eight.

And there have been many figures of eight carded in the course's 86-year history.

As Gary Player declared following his 1972 US PGA victory at Oakland Hills: "This is the best and toughest American course I've ever played - it is certainly quite humbling."

The American and European teams will not only have each other to beat when the 35th Ryder Cup tees off.







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