|Dates June 15–17, 1961|
Cut 149 (+9)
Start date 1961
Prize fund 60,500 USD
|Length 6,907 yards (6,316 m)|
Winner's share $14,000
Tour PGA TOUR
|Field 149 players, 57 after cut|
Location Oakland Hills South Course
Organized by United States Golf Association
Similar 1996 US Open, 1972 US Open, 1962 US Open, 1960 US Open
The 1961 U.S. Open was the 61st U.S. Open, held June 15–17 at the South Course of Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Michigan, a suburb north of Detroit. Gene Littler won his sole major title, one stroke ahead of runners-up Bob Goalby and Doug Sanders.
Amateur Jack Nicklaus finished tied for fourth, three strokes behind Littler, his second consecutive top-4 finish at the U.S. Open. He turned professional in November and won the first of four U.S. Open titles the following year. Four-time champion Ben Hogan finished in a tie for 14th place, eight strokes back, the only time since 1940 he placed outside the top ten at the U.S. Open. This was the site of his third title in 1951. He did not enter for five years and made his final U.S. Open appearances in 1966 and 1967. Defending champion Arnold Palmer was also tied for 14th.
The South Course previously hosted the U.S. Open in 1924, 1937, and 1951. It later hosted in 1985 and 1996, and the PGA Championship in 1972, 1979, and 2008.
At the start of the final round on Saturday afternoon, Littler was at 213 (+3), three strokes behind 54-hole leader Sanders. After a 34 on the front-nine, Littler tied the lead with a birdie at 11. With a birdie at 13 combined with a Sanders bogey at the same hole, Littler was two strokes ahead. Sanders rebounded with a birdie at 16 to move within one. As Littler and Sanders reached the 18th, Goalby had already posted a 282 total, two off the pace. Littler needed no worse than bogey to get in ahead of Goalby, and that is what he shot, recording his lone bogey of the round for a 68 and a 281 total. Sanders, meanwhile, narrowly missed a birdie putt at 17, then almost chipped in for birdie at the last that would have forced a Sunday playoff. Sanders' putter cost him the championship, as he three-putted five of the last 36 greens. Littler was the only player to break par twice.
Missed the cut
Saturday, June 17, 1961(a) denotes amateur