Having just bogeyed the 17th hole to lose his lead at the U.S. Open, Steve Jones could have panicked.

Instead, he stood on the 18th tee box at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and prepared for his next shot.

"When I bogeyed 17, it calmed me down," Jones said. "It felt like a playoff. I think I'm 2-1 in playoffs and when I get in a playoff, I'm real calm and just enjoy the moment because you know you can't do any worse than second. It just calmed me down and I played the (18th) hole very well."

Twenty years ago, Jones, 57, celebrated Father's Day in about the best way possible. After growing up in Yuma and graduating from the University of Colorado, Jones secured the greatest victory of his career on June 16, 1996, when he won the U.S. Open.

"It was amazing," he said. "I thanked God right away after I won and raised my arms with my ball in one hand my putter in one hand. I have a picture, looking up to the heavens and, 'Thank you, Lord.'"

Moments before that, Jones brushed aside the bogey that dropped him into a tie with Davis Love III and Tom Lehman. Playing a group ahead, Love bogeyed 18 to fall a stroke behind.

"Probably my favorite memory, I can still see and feel the solid tee shot I hit on 18," Jones said. "I hit the driver really well all week and wasn't hooking the ball. I was just hitting a little draw. I just took it over the right bunker and hit a little draw into the fairway. I can still feel how solid that Covert driver, how solid I hit it."


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Playing with Lehman, Jones' drive set him up for a great finish. Like Love, Lehman bogeyed the hole to open the door for Jones. He had about a two-foot putt for par that he sank to win the championship.

Shortly after the winning putt, Jones was joined on the green by his son Cy (who was 5), daughter Stacey (who was 3) and his wife, Bonnie.

"Johnny Miller, at the end of it, he said, 'Those are the two best trophies he could ever win, right there, with the kids,'" Jones said. "He hit the nail on the head when he said that on Father's Day.

"We've got some amazing photographs of my family (from that day)."

Jones also made sure to give thanks to his father, who introduced him to golf when Steve was a kid in Yuma.

For Jones, it was the pinnacle of a career that has seen many ups and downs.

At CU, Jones earned All-Big Eight honors four times and was a second-team All-American in 1980-81. He had 19 top-10 finishes during his CU career and has been inducted into the CU sports hall of fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Jones turned pro in 1981 and won eight events on the PGA Tour, highlighted by his U.S. Open victory, and posted 44 top-10 finishes.

Since 2011, Jones has played on the Champions Tour, with one top-10 and 13 top-25 finishes to his credit.

Throughout his career, however, Jones has battled numerous injuries, including an elbow injury that has taken him out of competition since December.

Hi broke his thumb as a rookie in 1981. He had a motorcycle accident in 1991 that left him out of action for 3 ½ years. He was also injured in 2003 and 2007 — an injury that wiped out nearly four more years.

"I've been hurt about 11 years of my career," he said. "I've always wanted to keep coming back as much as I could or as long as I could, until I got to the point where I knew that my injury was going to force me out."

To this point, it hasn't. Jones hopes to return to competition in January. If nothing else, he's got plans to play golf, even recreationally, for years to come, and said he's still got several courses he'd like to play at some point.

He's even hoping to play once again at Indian Hills Golf Course in Yuma, where this journey began 45 years ago.

"They have some tight fairways now out there, because we didn't have any trees when I was growing up in the 70s," he said.

What they did have, however, was a 12-year-old with a dream, and a father who supported it. That makes this, and every Father's Day, special to Jones.

"I truly believe it's a gift from God that enables you to do certain things that your dreams come true," he said.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.