By Jay Betsill
On the heels of his dominating Masters win at Augusta National in April, Jordan Spieth won the second leg of the grand slam at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Spieth birdied the final hole then watched from the scorer’s tent as Dustin Johnson three-putted on No. 18 to give Spieth his second career major championship.
“I’m still in shock,” Spieth said in the post-round press conference. “I’ve never experienced a feeling like this. It was a very intense back nine.”
Spieth became only the sixth player to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year, and he joined Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in getting the first two legs of the modern slam. Spieth also became the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 and also became the first player since Jones to make birdie on the 72nd hole to win the U.S. Open by 1 shot.
“As you can tell, it’s very difficult to get them in the hole out there,” Johnson said. “The greens were really fast and they were rolling fairly smooth, but it was still bouncing a little bit.”
While Tiger Woods was long gone for the weekend after opening with 80-76, two of the bigger names in golf emerged on Sunday as Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott played their way on to the front page of the leaderboard. Scott fired a flawless 64 to end up two shots behind Spieth and McIlroy cooled off on the back nine to finish in a tie for 9th.
In addition to the dramatic final hour of play, the golf community’s chatter centered around the condition of the Chambers Bay golf course and FOX Sports’ broadcast. Henrik Stenson referred to the greens as putting on broccoli and Billy Horschel said he lost respect for the USGA while Sergio Garcia compared the greens condition in such a big tournament to playing the NBA Finals on a court that had holes in it.
As for FOX’s initial golf broadcast, Joe Buck got better throughout the weekend while his partner Greg Norman added very little for the viewers. Part of the problem with FOX’s coverage stemmed from the dormant conditions of Chambers Bay itself as the golf ball would get lost in the brown fairways and as players such as Horschel blasted the bumpy conditions of the greens, FOX’s announcers would defend the course and cowtow to the USGA.
While the tournament had a Hollywood-style ending, FOX saved its worst for last. When Buck practically begged Norman to talk about Spieth’s clutch putt on No. 16 that gave him a three-shot lead with two holes to play, the Shark replied that he was “speechless.” Probably not the idea FOX had when they hired him to analyze one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year.
After failing to provide any analysis of Spieth or Johnson’s putts on No. 18, FOX also failed to get any reaction from Spieth as Johnson essentially handed him the tournament by three-putting from 12 feet after he had a putt to win the U.S. Open. The victory ceremony did not get any better as the identified the wrong person in the crowd as Spieth’s father.
Only time will tell if Chambers Bay will ever be awarded another U.S. Open, but as FOX has the rights to every USGA event for the next 11 years, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Spieth’s next chance for a grand slam is next month with the Open Championship at St. Andrews.
The next stop on the PGA Tour is the Traveler’s Championship at the TPC River Highlands. Big names in the field include Keegan Bradley, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Billy Horschel, Davis Love III, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson.