In the immediate aftermath of majors, we often talk about how a golfer brought a course to its knees. Well, Chambers Bay brought a lot of golfers to their knees at the U.S. Open this past weekend. From the set-up of the course to the greens to everything in between, many golfers were not enamored with their experience in the Pacific Northwest.
But should we, as fans, necessarily feel sympathy for them?
“Look, I didn’t have to play it, so it’s not that I don’t care, but I’m kind of halfway in the middle,” GolfChannel.com editor Jay Coffin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “As a journalist, I love these guys popping off, saying they hate it, right? Because it gives us stuff to talk about, it gives us stuff to write about. I love it. I don’t think some of them should have gone as far as they (did). Look, it’s the U.S. Open. This was kind of a one- off. They basically built this course to host the U.S. Open. It didn’t really work. Part of me says ‘Shut up, just play, get out of town and just be over it.’ So I don’t like (to be on the fence), but (in) this case, I kind of am because I really do see both sides. It was rough out there. It’s not as nice as these guys play week-to-week, but it’s the U.S. Open. It’s a major championship. There’s a lot of glory to be had by the end of the week. You got to suck it up.”
Dustin Johnson, 31, had a chance to win his first major on Sunday, but he three-putted on 18 to lose to 21-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth, who won his second major of the season.
Did Johnson choke?
“Yeah, I kind of think he did,” Coffin said. “Well, here’s the deal. You want to take it for what it is and say, okay, it was a tough three-putt. It was. But it was also from 12 feet. He’s got to get that down 99 times out of 100. But there’s a little bit of a history of this. He’s had a chance to win three other majors, and for . . . one reason or another, (he didn’t). Whatever the reasons are, he’s not been able to get it done. So now you (wonder) is this a trend? And it kind of seems that way. It’s weird, man. He had a chance to win in the beginning. He made a few bogeys there in the middle after having a two-shot lead, so it was kind of like a slow burn and then Spieth makes a double bogey on 17 to bring DJ back into it. (Johnson) has another shot, makes birdie on 17, hits two great shots on 18, we think we’re going to a playoff, he may win it outright – and then (he) goes and does that. I don’t really care who wins or loses. I’m there for the story. But when that happens, man, my heart sank. I don’t know how you can watch that and not feel terribly for that guy.”
Spieth, on the other hand, came up aces again, displaying a veteran poise that belies his youth. He finished the weekend at 5-under-275 to become just the sixth player to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year. The other five? Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
That’s good company.
Even better, Spieth is an easy guy to root for.
“Honestly, you will not find one person (who says) a bad thing about him,” Coffin said. “Not that I’m out looking for people to say bad things about him, but I’ve talked to PR people who have spent tons of time with him, I’ve talked to players, caddies, other media types who spent time with him, I spent a little bit of time with him a few years ago – I seriously cannot find one person who says anything bad about this guy. And in this day and age, you know that that’s basically a minor miracle.
“I think he is the real deal,” Coffin continued. “I think he’s well-grounded. I think he has a great family. He’s got a special, neat sister. I don’t think you can overlook the fact that he’s had to deal with issues regarding her that, at this stage of his life, I think make him mature well beyond his years because he’s had to deal with things that other normal 21-year-olds maybe have not. You put all that together, you have a little bit of an edge. But that edge is not cockiness. It’s only confidence.
“Some people have an edge and say things and you’re like, ‘Man, that guy is a little bit of a jerk. He’s kind of teetering on the line.’ He doesn’t. When he says it, he’s a good quote. You believe him. You don’t sit there and think this guy is really full of himself; you think this guy has got his act together. I think he’s super refreshing, I think the world of him and I think the sky’s the limit.”