By Ron Patey
Jordan Spieth left the vault door wide open for Dustin Johnson at Chambers Bay on Sunday. But the long-baller couldn’t amble on in and snatch the U.S. Open title.
Spieth appeared destined to win his second straight major victory when he made a terrific left-to-right bender for birdie from a little less than 30 feet at No. 16. The putt gave him a three-shot lead. The 21-year-old Texan then proceeded to block his 6-iron tee-shot way right on the par-3 17th. He chopped out of the gnarly fescue, but stickhandled his way to a double bogey. Doubt began to seep in. On 18 he put a solid drive in prime attack position, stopped a three-wood 15 feet from the hole, then two-putted for birdie to exit the stage and wait for Johnson.
Johnson drove for show when he hit a mammoth tee shot at the par-5 18th hole and followed it up with a splendid five-iron onto the green 12 feet from the cup. However, the South Carolina native, who turned 31 years old on Monday, just couldn’t putt for the dough. He took the wrong line and missed a downhill eagle putt that would have won him his first major title. Johnson then pulled the three-foot come-backer left of the hole in a bid to force an 18-hole playoff with the Masters champion.
Spieth’s victory makes him the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923, the youngest two-time major champion since Gene Sarazen in 1922, the sixth player to capture the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year and the first since Bobby Jones in 1926 to birdie the 72nd hole to win.
Next On The Tee: Travelers Championship
Louis Oosthuizen leads a contingent of 38 players who competed in the U.S. Open to the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. The South African bounced back from an opening round 77 at Chambers Bay to get a piece of the top spot during the final day. He landed T2 with Dustin Johnson, one shot back of Jordan Spieth after the Texan made birdie in the final hole. Oosthuizen’s final round total of 67 included five consecutive birdies. His remarkable recovery from his group’s first-day horror show (Oosthuizen played with Tiger Woods, who shot 80, and Rickie Fowler, who posted an 81) must have the sweet-swinging righty heading east full of renewed confidence.
Bubba Watson arrives at TPC River Highlands on a mission to find some consistency. Watson missed the cut at the U.S. Open and hasn’t been a big-time threat to hold a winner’s trophy on a Sunday since he placed third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The two-time Masters champion finished T42 at The Players Championship, T17 at the WGC Cadillac Match Play and T38 at The Masters prior to his early exit from the U.S. Open.
Defending Travelers champion Kevin Streelman lands at TPC River Highlands looking to break through into the stratosphere of the FedExCup standings. Streelman is comfortably in 41st place thanks to making 15 cuts in 19 starts and has five top-25 finishes. He’ll be looking to become more than just a steady earner on a track where he’s been successful.
TPC River Highlands plays 6,841 yards long and is a par 70.
Favorites: Louie Oosthuizen, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed
Players To Watch: Kevin Streelman, Branden Grace, Billy Horschel, Sergio Garcia, Keegan Bradley
Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.