Jordan Spieth and the US Open
What an amazing US Open. A lot of people panned it because of the conditions of the greens and the crazy slopes, but that made it interesting.
By winning the US Open at the age of 21, he became the youngest man to win the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1923. That is almost 100 years. Quite the feat. And that ain’t all folks. He is only the sixth person in history to win the Masters and then win the US Open as well. The last person to do it was naturally Tiger Woods in 2002.
The Chambers Bay Golf course became as much of a story as the competition. It took a lot of heat for the condition of the greens and the layout of the course. It was also interesting having trains going by the golf course. We don’t remember ever seeing that before.
Morning vs. Afternoon
It was also interesting that the entire course played differently in the afternoon than it did in the morning. The grounds crew would water the course overnight and they would get the wetness such that the ball rolled at a certain speed designated by the person from the USGA who set up the course each day. However, the course was built on a sand and gravel quarry and the moisture would drain away during the day and by the afternoon, the ball moved considerably faster and the surface didn’t grip it as well.
The greens also ran differently in the afternoon. Apparently the greens are supposed to be fine fescue but poa annua invaded some of the greens. By afternoon it grew some and people said it was like playing on broccoli or cauliflower. One woman commentator said she had grown up playing on Poa annua and preferred it to Bermuda grass. But a lot of others had a lot to say about the conditions. One person said it was the first time in history that people were happy to miss the cut and go home and not have to play the course anymore. Sounds a bit like sour grapes, but to each his own.
Other people complained about the slopes. One person said it wasn’t reasonable to hit the ball within a yard of the hole and then watch it roll 50 yards away. There were some dramatic slopes, there is no doubt about that.
The commentators kept talking about how the fairways were much wider than usual. It didn’t seem to matter. A lot of people still missed them and hit into bunkers, of which there were a lot, (why not make use of the sand from the quarry?) or they hit into the rough. And what a rough it was with tall grass that you wanted to take a scythe to.
The course was also unusual because of the elevation changes. On several par 3s, the tee was 50 to 90 feet above the green which made judging the distance and what club to use that much more difficult.
But, we ask ourselves, if the course was really all that bad, how did Louis Oosthuizen manage to tie for the lowest 9 hole score in US Open history on the back nine?
So Oosthuizen finishes with four under par, but it seemed it wasn’t going to be quite good enough with the people still left to finish. Spieth had a birdie on the 16th hold and that put him 3. But that vanished on the next hole which he double bogeyed. That put him even with Oosthuizen who had just birdied the 18th hole. Dustin Johnson who was also in the last pair birdied the 17th hole. Then Spieth birdies the 18th putting him at 5 under. But, Johnson hits a great tee shot and has a chance to win with a putt for eagle. He misses and the ball rolls 5 feet past the cup. So everyone assumes that he will sink it and tie at 5 under and have a playoff the next day. But he misses the putt, makes the tap in and ties Oosthuizen for second. And Spieth makes history. You feel bad for Johnson, but it was compelling viewing.