American Jordan Spieth fired a final round 69 to shoot five-under-par 275 to defeat Dustin Johnson and South African Louis Oosthuizen by a shot to win the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Sunday began with four players tied for the lead at four-under but only one was left standing in regulation and it was the 21-year-old 2015 Masters champion. Playing in the penultimate group with Brendan Grace, Spieth made a fantastic birdie on No. 16 for a three-shot lead and a seemingly easy finish. Not at the U.S. Open. His tee shot on the par-three 17th was well right and his double bogey gave the rest of the field hope. His eagle putt on the final hole fell just short but his kick-in birdie set the winning number but he didn't know that at the time.
Dustin Johnson and the courageous Jason Day were in the final group and Johnson would cause the loudest ruckus in the final two holes. DJ staked a beauty where Spieth made double and after tapping in his birdie he was just one behind with the gettable par-five the finishing hole. After PIPING a drive, Johnson's five iron was just 12 feet from eagle and his first major championship. His second putt was six feet away from making a Monday playoff. His third putt saw him share second place.
Again for Johnson.
Pebble Beach. Whistling Straits. Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Now Chambers Bay. I might have forgotten another one because I'm numb right now after watching that final 90 minutes of commercial-free golf. I don't know if DJ would have beaten Spieth over 18 more holes on Monday but I would guess most of us thought we'd at least see him try.
Chambers Bay was also the best supporting actor in a drama this week. From the fescue-Poa annua discussion to the par four/five switches and the multiple drivable par-four holes, I thought it was wildly entertaining. It was great to see risk-reward holes AND BIRDIES down the stretch to determine a major champion. It was weird. It was different. It was fun (?!?!) instead of painful to watch. Jordan Spieth wouldn't bite on Joe Buck's question about what he thought about the course and he won tournament.
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Why This Performance Doesn’t Surprise:
Dude just smashed about every record last time out winning the Masters except the lowest winning score. His caddy used to work on this track. He had played the course in a USGA set up in stroke play at the 2010 U.S. Amateur. It was pointed out this week that the greens were, in places, contoured similarly to Augusta and we know how well he read/judged those. He's a fantastic speed putter and has no problems lagging from anywhere. With greens of that size, it's not surprising that the best putter on TOUR ended up holding the trophy. He entered the week No. 2 in the OWGR and will remain there at least for another week. This was his third victory on the season in his 17th event. It was his 10th top 10 and 13th top 25.
Why This Performance Surprises:
It has been argued that the U.S. Open rewards premium, power ball-strikers who find fairways and greens and frankly, that has been Spieth's perceived weakness in his very short career. He struggled to hit fairways this week but seemed to find them all when it mattered on Sunday and that's the true mark of a champion. It was pointed out multiple times that Dustin Johnson was near or at the top of the field in putting for the week. I won't remind you of what happened on the final hole. Spieth's final hole had him PLEADING with his driver to stay short of the bunker and coaxing his three wood to the back of the green on his second. It wasn't a clinical ball-striking performance but when it got thick, he made more shots than he missed. I can't wait to see him on a tight, deep-rough old school course like we'll see at Oakmont next year. Spieth was 0-4 with the 54-hole lead before his win at Augusta. He's now 2-4 after this week!
How Spieth Won This Week:
He made 18 birdies and he never made less than four during any round.
He was par or better on the back nine all four days. Both of his double bogeys came on the back nine as well.
He grinds and finds a way. Even though he was benign off the tee he still hit over 75% GIR.
He played the weekend even par after opening five-under before the cut. He didn't have to chase all weekend like Oosthuizen, McIlroy or Scott.
This week, he's the standard on TOUR. McIlroy won the two majors before Spieth won his two in a row so that give the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world the last four. That's a rivalry and will give gamers headaches for years to come! The Michael Greller angle was magic this week but it was Spieth who had to pull the club back 275 times. Spieth is automatic on any course, anytime, anywhere minus TPC Four Season in his hometown of Dallas. He's proven that fast greens are his meat and drink and wide-open courses with minimal rough are preferred but I can't think of a reason to sit him ever in form like this.
With This Win:
He's halfway home to the career grand slam and THE grand slam. As he remarked after the round that you can't win them all if you don't win the first two. #Math. Go ahead and bet against him as it's never been done before. Plenty of folks thought that Woods records at Augusta would never be approached either. I won't bore you with all the details but he'll take home a ton of loot and plenty of exemptions for down the road. I doubt he'll need them someday if he continues down this path.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After 28 wins in 45 events last season, the USA returns to the winner's circle for the second major in a row and breaks up a three-win-streak for the rest of the world.
Brooks Koepka, Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore, Robert Streb, Ben Martin, Brandt Snedeker, James Hahn (born in Korea; US citizen), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Every, Walker again, J.B. Holmes, Spieth again, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk and Spieth thrice, are the USA champs.
Alex Cejka (Germany), Paddy Harrington (Ireland), Sangmoon Bae (Korea), Nick Taylor (Canada), Jason Day (Australia), Justin Rose (England), McIlroy times two (Northern Ireland), Steven Bowditch (Australia), David Lingmerth (Sweden) and Fabian Gomez (Argentina) are the 10 international winners in 32 events. It’s quite the global game in the sense that nine of those winners have come from nine different countries: Germany, Ireland, Korea, Canada, Australia twice, England, Northern Ireland (same guy twice), Sweden and Argentina.
Haas, Bae, Martin, Moore, Walker and Spieth have closed their 54-hole leads. Walker, Spieth and Kirk are the only persons on BOTH sides of this list; Walker couldn’t close out at HTOC but came back and won the following week at Sony. Spieth, who was 0-4 with the 54-hole lead in his career on TOUR, couldn’t hold out at SHO before winning the Masters. Kirk couldn’t close his 54-hole lead at THE PLAYERS but had no trouble coming off the pace at Colonial. Rose adds his name to this list as his three-shot lead evaporated. Gomez made it only 11 players in 30 events (no 54-hole leader at WGC-Match Play) that have finished the job. Spieth is now 2-for-2 with the 54-hole lead or co-lead this YEAR in the majors.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. After 32 events in 2015 Gomez, Lingmerth, Martin, Streb, Taylor, Koepka, Hahn and Cejka have broken through.
It's now 19 of the last 20 years that the winner has been within two shots of the lead after 36 holes.
Spieth is only the sixth player to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.
He's the youngest two-time major champ since 1922 (Gene Sarazen).
He's the first player since Bobby Jones in 1926 to birdie the final hole to win the U.S. Open. Ok, then!
Adam Scott set the Chambers Bay course record this week with 64. The U.S. Open record remains 63 by multiple players.
Angel Cabrera will defend next year at Oakmont which will host for a record ninth time. He was the champion the last time in 2007.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
I annually keep track of the age of the winners on TOUR because I’m an ageist. GET OFF MY VIAGRA.
Bae got the youngsters (under 30) on the board first in 2014-15 followed by Martin and Streb, both 27. Nick Taylor, 26, popped in to close out 2014 at SFC. Reed joined the party at a whopping 24 at HTOC followed by Koepka, 25 in Phoenix and Jason Day, 27, at Torrey Pines. Spieth, who turns 22 on 29 July, has won at Valspar Augusta and now at Chambers Bay. McIlroy, 26, Fowler, 26, and McIlroy won again at Quail Hollow. Lingmerth, the winner at Memorial, turns 28 in July. The youngsters have 13 winners in 32 events this year.
Dustin Johnson (30), James Hahn (33), Brandt Snedeker (34),Bill Haas (32), Jimmy Walker TWICE (36), Charley Hoffman (37), Bubba Watson (36), Ryan Moore (31), Matt Every (31), J.B. Holmes (32),Justin Rose (34), Chris Kirk (30), Steven Bowditch (31) and Fabian Gomez (36), are the prime time guys with silverware (30-39 years).
The old guys (40-and-over) have Jim Furyk, Paddy Harrington and Alex Cejka as representatives in their smallish club in 2015. If you had John Senden (T14) as the best "old dude" you win the pool. Everyone in the top 10 was 34 or younger this week. Bombing and flat bellies > old, wise and short hitting.
What I learned from the finishers INSIDE the top 10 this week.
Louis Oosthuizen: "What if" wasn't only on DJs mind after this week was over as Oosti was probably thinking the same thoughts. The 2010 Open champion was in a troika with Fowler and Woods and he was the medalist on Thursday with 77. He escaped the burning tire fire after Friday's 66 saw him make the cut easily where as Fowler and Woods were duking it out for last. He followed with 66-67 on the weekend and the only thing more remarkable than his final three rounds was that he was healthy enough to post them. The arduous walk of over eight miles daily didn't bother the neck/back that saw him WD after three rounds last time out at Colonial. He closed with 29 at a U.S. Open. On Sunday. Imagine if he didn't hit it all over the shop on the first four holes in the final round! He's defending at St. Andrews next month and if he's healthy, he's automatic. Plenty of talent, plenty of risk-reward here and he rewarded those who took that chance this week.
Dustin Johnson: Been here, done that. There's no questioning his talent. There's no questioning his ability. I'm not sure his brother on the bag is the difference maker that he might need for a big moment on Sunday. The golfer still has to execute the shot but I noticed Adam Scott went back to Steve Williams this week and things got a bit better over there. Johnson's putting let him down in the final round and that is hardly surprising. He hits so many good drives/irons that his numbers will always be skewed but he didn't take advantage Sunday. His longest birdie putt was five feet because of great iron play and poor putting. At least gamers won't have to worry about how he'll react to such a crushing defeat as we've seen this before. Back in the saddle next time out.
Adam Scott: Welcome back Willy! Steve Williams was back on the bag this week and Scott looked like this was the 2013 Masters. He's now changed putters and caddies this year and there's a reason for it. After opening 2015 with T4 at Doral, he rattled off MC-T35-T38-T52-T38-MC-T24. He was No. 176 in total putting. His 64 was just his fourth round under 70 in 44 tries in the U.S. Open so there was plenty of ammo to avoid him this week. His new caddy and course record (bogey-free) 64 on Sunday is ammo to get back on that horse but remember Scott didn't break par in the first three rounds. It's definitely a positive step.
Cameron Smith: He would have been the 21-year-old that everyone would have been fawning over if it wasn't for that pesky Spieth! The young Aussie won the Australian Amateur in 2011 (stroke play), 2012 (stroke play) and 2013. He racked up a top 10 at the CIMB Classic last fall and was also T15 at RBC Heritage. His T4 gives him a trip to next year's championship plus a trip to Augusta. He also gained enough FedExCup points to receive STM for the rest of the season so he could make a handy addition for season-long gamers. He's also eligible for the Travelers next week with this top 10.
Branden Grace: He was six out of six with the 54-hole lead in his career but none of those were in a major championship. He was tied with Spieth for the lead on No. 16 when his drive was blasted right and OB. He made double and wasn't heard from again. He entered the week lightly raced but his last two were T9 (Match Play) and T11 (Wentworth). He was also T9 at RBC Heritage so he's proven that he's money on tighter tracks were ball-striking matters, No. 16 be damned. He's won twice this season and should be on your radar.
Charl Schwartzel: Along with Oosthuizen and Scott the former major champion had been struggling since February but broke out this week on a course he didn't particularly enjoy. He remarked even after his final round of 66 that he believed the greens weren't up to standard and that luck was too much of a factor this week. Like Oosthuizen he began with a clunker, 73, but rallied to shoot 69-66 on the weekend on greens he didn't like. He entered the week T51-MC-T78-MC.
Brandt Snedeker: Back-to-back T6 or better entering the week showed his game was in very good working shape. His solo eighth was his seventh top 25 in his last eight starts. In his last five, four have been T11 or better and the other finish is T17. His putter is the reason for his season and it gets him out of any trouble his ball-striking causes him.
Rory McIlroy: This was his sixth top 10 in his last seven majors. I'll stop typing now. He hit it great and made nothing for the second major in a row. He was fourth at Augusta and T9 this week. His ball-striking is almost unfair at times and he's worth of his ranking, No. 1, in the world.
Shane Lowry: He poked his nose in the top 10 at the Farmers in February and returned to the top 10 at Wentworth last month. He had nothing worse than 71 and nothing better than 69 and hit the top 10 for the second time in his last four majors. He was T9 at Royal Liverpool last year.
Jason Day: Oh, wow. Vertigo. Now we know why he's been WD/DNS over the last few years. Sadly doctors can't help him with why or when he will suffer from this so gamers will continue to fly blindly when playing him. The U.S. Open might be the place. He's now hit the top 10 in four of his five attempts at the U.S. Open but none more impressive than this one after collapsing on the course Friday afternoon. He's never MC in a U.S. Open. He's not playing next week in Connecticut.
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column:
Justin Rose: He dug too many deep holes on the front side of the course during the week and couldn't dig out on the back. His T27 included a triple on Friday and a double each day of the weekend yet he hit 46 of 56 fairways and 53 of 72 GIR. Oh, and his putting average was in the top half as well. That's four in a row of T27 or better since MC at Congo in 2011.
Rory McIlroy: T9, see above. Choo. Choo.
Jim Furyk: Sadly his best round of the week was 70 and even worse it was on Sunday. He steady play and thinking man's game found too many bogeys to barely make the cut and then he opened with three triples in his first six holes on Saturday to disappear. T42.
Jordan Spieth: WIN.
Phil Mickelson: Opened with 69 and played the rest of the week 14-over. He wasn't sharp from tee-to-green and he wasn't sharp on the greens when he found them. He made only seven birdies in his final three rounds. His best three finishes of the year are on courses where he's had the most successes. T64.
Brandt Snedeker: 8th.
Dustin Johnson: T2.
Hideki Matsuyama: T18 with nothing under par. He's a fantastic grinder and ball-striker but his putter usually determines his fate. He made four doubles this week and was inside the top 20. #Grinder
Rickie Fowler: Mr. Recent Major crashed and burned AGAIN when playing with Tiger Woods. He signed for 84 in the final group at Memorial during Woods' win in 2013 and racked up 81-73 MC this week. No question that he was the most disappointing performer in fantasy land this week. Maybe he learned from Oosti's 66 on Friday how to crack that code.
Billy Horschel: He had it inside of the top 20 after an eagle on No. 12 Sunday but he made two bogeys coming home to post 67. There are plenty of Vines going around the interweb that clearly show how Horschel felt about the greens. He wasn't thrilled after the round either about the difficulty of putting on the week. He finished T25 and now has T25 or better in his last three national championships.
Henrik Stenson: The Swedish GIR machine co-led after the first round with 65 but never went lower than 72 the next three rounds. He wasn't thrilled with the putting surfaces either and said they resembled broccoli. He began Sunday just five back but he began Sunday four-over through five and never factored. T27.
Matt Kuchar: Bookends 67-69 saw Kuchar finish in the top 30 for the sixth time on the bounce. He was T12 last year at Pinehurst as well. He made two doubles on the back Sunday which wiped out an eagle and two birdies. #WhatIf
Francesco Molinari: Another in the T27 log jam as the Italian couldn't capitalize on his opening 68 as the weekend rolled on. It's not hard to figure out what the issue was if he hit 86% of fairways and 82% GIR. He's now made four cuts in seven U.S. Opens. He's never been better than T23 or worse than T29.
Sergio Garcia: He's now played the weekend in eight in a row while trying to seek his first major. He only made three bogeys and a double in his final 36 holes and only one bogey came in his closing 68. That's T17-T18 in the first two majors of the year.
Patrick Reed: 36-hole-co-leader with Spieth but his 76-71 weekend saw him fade to T14, his best finish in two starts (T35 last year).
Danny Willett: 72-77, MC. Burp.
Jimmy Walker: He made the cut on the number on Friday but didn't take advantage 72-75. He bogeyed one quarter of the holes.
Ryan Moore: 75-74, MC. Hometown hero never was in it.
Brooks Koepka: He closed 70-69 to finish T18 despite a cool putter which is usually his strength. He finished T4 last year.
I’ll publish my weekly preview, Range Rover, around lunchtime, children permitting. I’ll focus on history, current form, course characteristics, winning qualities and those who I think will and will not.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday late afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it every Tuesday until the Presidents Cup.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Travelers plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.