The Jordan Spieth train keeps a-rolling … and this time, it ran over Dustin Johnson.
The Masters champion wasn’t quite as steady at Chambers Bay as he’d been at Augusta, but he was good enough to outlast the field and win the 2015 U.S. Open. Spieth, all of 21 years old, has now won two majors – the first two of 2015 – and has already cemented himself as one of his generation’s finest golfers. And he did so in the most clutch fashion imaginable … and for Dustin Johnson, the most heartbreaking.
Johnson found himself on the 18th green with a putt to win the U.S. Open, two putts to tie and force a playoff. He ran the first putt long, and the three-foot comebacker slid just left:
It was a painful end to one of the most fascinating three-hole finishes in recent major history.
Spieth took an outright three-stroke lead with a birdie on 16, and the tournament looked to be over. But then he surrendered it just one hole later when his double-bogey ran hard into Louis Oosthuizen’s birdie barrage.
At that point, Spieth was tied with Oosthuizen, who shot 29 on the back nine, and just a stroke ahead of Johnson, who was lining up a short birdie putt on 17. He made it.
One hole left – the hole Spieth had called “the dumbest hole I’ve ever played” 48 hours earlier. Would Spieth sputter and end the day in a playoff or worse?
Not even close. Spieth’s second shot on the par-5 18th rolled past the hole, hitting the bank beyond and curled back to come rest within 12 feet of the cup. His eagle putt came up just short, and he tapped in for a birdie that eliminated everyone but the late-charging Johnson.
Johnson drilled his tee shot on 18 straight down the gut, giving him a short approach to the green, which he put to within about 12 feet. Sink it and he wins. At worse, take the easy birdie get to a Monday playoff with Spieth. The eagle putt slid about four feet by. Johnson lined that up … and missed.
The championship was Spieth’s, who is now a serious contender for a grand slam, something that’s never been done in the modern era.
The day began with a four-way tie: Spieth, Johnson, Jason Day and Branden Grace. Day, still suffering the effects of vertigo that floored him on Friday, played himself out of contention first, bogeying three holes on the front nine.
For Johnson, the tournament first turned in the back nine. Two straight bogeys on 10 and 11 turned Johnson’s two-shot lead into a one-shot deficit. Both Spieth and Grace birdied the 12th, putting them into a tie for the lead. They’d share that lead for several more holes, Johnson seemingly fading in the distance, until the crucial and pivotal16th hole.
Grace, teeing off first, sent his shot wide right – so far wide that it nestled up against the train tracks that border the course:
On Chambers Bay, that’s out of bounds, and that forced Grace to re-tee and bogey the hole. Spieth, meanwhile, rolled in a drop-the-mic birdie putt that resulted in a three-stroke swing:
But the double-bogey on the very next hole brought Oosthuizen back in, and on the 17th, Johnson’s birdie tied him up as well.
Spieth is now the youngest two-time major champion since Gene Sarazen in 1922. He’s the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923. He’s only the sixth player to lead off a season by winning the Masters and the U.S. Open, and the first since somebody named Tiger Woods in 2002.
Further down the leaderboard, subtler drama reigned. Adam Scott carded the quietest 64 you’ll ever see on a major Sunday, finishing at -3. Rory McIlroy (E) made yet another Sunday run after a lackluster early tourney, but two late bogeys killed his slim chances. Oosthuizen, shaking off the last of the stench of his opening-round 77, birdied six of the last seven holes to finish at -4.
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