Amateur Billy Joe Patton owned the 36-hole lead, but fell back with consecutive 76s over the final two rounds to finish in 8th. The 54-hole lead was held by Jimmy Demaret, at 47 attempting to become the oldest U.S. Open champion. Mayer was a shot back, while Middlecoff, Julius Boros, and Roberto De Vicenzo were two back. With temperatures soaring in the final round with high humidity, Demaret was five-over through 11 holes. He rebounded with three birdies on the back nine to post a 72 and a 283 total, a shot out of the playoff. Mayer carded a 70 and a 282 total, while Middlecoff birdied the last to force a playoff. The Sunday playoff turned out to be a one-sided affair, as Mayer shot 72 to Middlecoff's 79. Temperatures were again in the high 90s and only one birdie was carded.
This U.S. Open witnessed the debut of 17-year-old amateur Jack Nicklaus, who had consecutive rounds of 80 and missed the cut. It was just the beginning for Nicklaus, however, as he would go on to win a record-tying four Open titles and a record 18 major championships. While Nicklaus was making his debut, three-time major winner Denny Shute was playing his last Open; he too missed the cut. Two-time champion Gene Sarazen, at 55 in his penultimate Open, also missed the cut. After receiving medical attention for a back ailment, four-time champion and pre-tournament favorite Ben Hogan withdrew prior to his first round on Thursday.
The course was scheduled to play to a length of 6,961 yards (6,365 m), but heavy rains caused several new tee boxes to become unplayable and the course was shortened by about 100 yards (90 m).