YOU COULDN’T have asked for a better US Open. It was links golf to a tee and throughly enjoyable to watch as the extremity of the Chambers Bay course saw the lead change hands again and again.
I had to feel for Dustin Johnson after he missed out on a first Major title and then a play-off by catastrophically three-putting the last hole. He hit a brilliant second shot at 18 which more often than not ought to roll back down towards the hole. Instead he was left with a tricky 12-footer, and it wouldn’t go in. It breaks your heart; he deserved a play-off at least.
You felt that if Johnson was to slip up then Jordan Spieth would be best placed to win. Spieth’s double bogey at 17 briefly threw that into doubt but he took it in his stride and produced a great drive at 18. All that matters is that his name is on the trophy so let’s give the 21-year-old all the plaudits.
There may have been a little luck involved in Spieth’s second Major win but that is the case with links-style golf. It happens. It is down to your preparation and how well you have got to know the course.
South African Charl Schwartzel said he was no fan of Chambers Bay when he first arrived last week. But he gave himself plenty of practice hours to acclimatise, and as the days went by he enjoyed it more and more. People have said that about St Andrews; it’s very strategic. That made for a gripping spectacle, with Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen both looking like they could win at times on Sunday.
The greens came in for some criticism and of course organisers would have liked to have had them in perfect condition. But that’s okay. Champions take that in, recognise that it’s the same for everybody and make the best of it. Spieth had a tough time during his third round but did not let it throw his whole tournament.
Spieth is now in with a chance of winning an unprecedented calendar-year grand slam. I think it’s absolutely conceivable that he wins more Majors this year. St Andrews, where the Open Championships is being staged next month, suits players like him who draw the ball.
His rivalry with Rory McIlroy is certainly getting closer. He finished tied for ninth but Rory was sublime over the last 36 holes. If the greens had been perfect he’d have won by 10 shots, he was that good. Still, there were huge positives for him and when you swing the club as well as he does it is only a matter of time before he wins again.
A couple of other players deserve honourable mentions. Australian Cameron Smith, 21, holed an eagle at the last to share fourth place on his Major debut. And Jimmy Gunn, a fellow Scot who as a child had City A.M. founder Lawson Muncaster as a babysitter, finished tied for 29th. He also came through qualifying to play his first Major so it was a great result.
The McIlroy and Spieth of the seniors scene, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, will be aiming to continue their dominance of the Majors at this week’s Senior US Open. Between them they have won six of the last seven Majors, and both are set to join a stellar field at next month’s Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex at Sunningdale.
Discounted advanced tickets to see the legends of the game in action are on sale at www.senioropengolf.com
Season tickets cost just £70, while one day tickets are £25 and Wednesday practice day tickets are £12. Under-16s are admitted free when accompanied by an adult and parking is also free.