Dustin Johnson entered Sunday’s final round 4 shots behind 54-hole leader Shane Lowry after years of being the punchline to countless “can’t close on Sunday” jokes. This Sunday, Johnson was able to conquer his demons, shooting a final-round 68* to win the U.S. Open. Johnson’s win wasn’t without drama… controversy struck mid-round over whether or not Johnson’s putter caused his ball to move on the 5th hole, creating a dark cloud that hung over the last 2 hours of coverage. The embattled pro was able to overcome the tough situation, birdieing the 18th after throwing a dart to 5 feet on his second shot and finishing 4 shots clear of his nearest competitors Lowry, Furyk and Piercy.
4 shots clear, that is, until...
A Major Failure
As Johnson was about to tee off on the 12th hole, he was approached by USGA Officials who questioned an earlier ruling from his 5th hole. Johnson had approached a putt without soling his club, and the ball had rolled back. Playing partner Lee Westwood and the group’s rules official agreed that Johnson had not caused the ball to roll, but that wasn’t enough for new USGA bad guy Jeff Hall and his crew. The USGA determined that Dustin Johnson “might be penalized”, and that they would discuss the possibility at the end of play. At the end of play, the USGA determined Dustin Johnson would indeed be penalized, changing his final score from -5 to -4.
The problem wasn’t the ruling but the way the ruling was handled. The USGA should have made a call right then and there on 5 and stuck with it. The fact that they went out 7 holes later to talk about it was bad, but not making a decision was even worse! Johnson didn’t know if he was leading by 2 shots or 1, and his competitors didn’t know how far behind they were. This will go down as one of the worst-officiated tournaments in the history of golf, and we weren’t the only ones that had a problem with it. Check out how the golf world reacted below:
How DJ got it done
The big Dusty used the longball to his advantage, routinely blasting 320+ yard bombs to the centers of Oakmont’s tight fairways to set up shorter and easier approach shots to the diabolical greens. On the week, DJ gained an astonishing 2.4 strokes per round on the field off the tee.
What about the flatstick? The club that has often held Dustin Johnson back from winning was clutch on Sunday. Johnson knocked in numerous 5-10’ par putts on the back 9 to keep his momentum going and earn him his landmark win.
Another close miss
While Johnson shed his status among “the greatest to never win a major”, a few others added another close call to their list.
Sergio Garcia - For a while on Sunday, it looked like it could be his day as the Spaniard surged to -3 and within 1 shot of the lead after his birdie on the 13th. Unfortunately, Garcia faded fast, bogeying the 14th, 15th (worst fried egg lie ever) and 16th to finish the championship in 5th place.
Lee Westwood - The resurgent Westwood started the championship hot with an opening-round 67 and entered Sunday 5 shots off of Lowry’s pace, paired with Dustin Johnson. From the 1st tee things went awry. Westwood struggled all day, shooting a final-round 80 to fall from 4th place to a tie for 32nd.
The Big 3
While it might be time to add a new U.S. Open Champion to this list of top players, here is how the “Big 3” faired at Oakmont.
Jason Day - The world number 1 shook off an opening-round 76 to shoot rounds of 69, 66 and 71 to finish in a tie for 8th. There is no doubt that Day will look back at that opening round and think what could have been.
Jordan Spieth - The defending champion managed to climb into contention early in Saturday’s third round, but poor ball-striking and Oakmont’s challenging greens got to him as the star faded on Saturday and Sunday to a t39th finish at +8. Spieth came under fire for his slow play during the week. His group was consistently out of position and put on the clock by USGA officials.
Rory McIlroy - After a disappointing opening 77, McIlroy needed a stellar 2nd round on Saturday morning to make the cut. After shredding Oakmont, shooting 31 on the opening 9 of his second round, it looked like McIlroy might play his way back into contention. But on his way in, McIlroy’s play faded and he entered his 18th hole needing a par in order to make the cut. McIlroy made a double bogey and then declined interview requests as he left the property.
Andrew Landry - The Cinderella story of the tournament was 640th-ranked Andrew Landry, who entered the week with his best finish coming in at last week’s St. Jude Classic, a t40th. Landry turned heads with his ability to drive the golf ball and roll in putts, and he entered Sunday’s final round in a tie for 2nd place and in the final pairing. Landry struggled, shooting a 78 to drop him to a tie for 15th, but the tournament was by far the best finish of his young career.
Charley Hoffman - Hoffman made the cut at this year’s U.S. Open, finishing a respectable t37th, but made headlines for comments directed at the USGA on Friday where he blasted the organization and described the event as “a professional event run by amateurs.” It seems Hoffman took quite a bit of joy in Sunday’s debacle.
Dapper or Damper
Dustin Johnson wasn’t the only winner. Check out who Kevin thought won and lost with their clothing choices this week.