The 115th US Open was criticised by many but few will forget it, with the course causing much controversy and Sunday serving up a classic final round. Steve Rawlings talks us through day four at Chambers Bay which ended with Jordan Spieth winning his second major just two months after his first...
"Will Dustin Johnson Ever Win a Major? I'm not convinced he will. Having fluffed his lines at a major championship for a third time at least, I have to wonder how much disappointment the poor bloke can stand. This latest disappointment could take months and even years to overcome."
Chambers Bay may well have been the most controversial major championship venue of the modern era but it produced one of the greatest finishes of all time with plenty of late drama.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, four men were tied for the lead with a round to go and of the four, only Jason Day, whose price never dipped below 4.67/2, didn't hold an outstanding chance of victory at - at least one stage.
Dustin Johnson was the first to hit odds-on after he'd opened up a two stroke lead early on, hitting a low of 1.664/6, but the putter when cold and he bogeyed three holes in four and failed to birdie the drivable par 4 12th. In fact, he missed from six feet on holes 10 and 11, seven feet on 12 and just five feet on 13 so it was more freezing than cold.
With DJ stuttering, Jordan Spieth and Branden Grace cruised along nicely and when the pair reached the drivable par 4 16th, they were tied at the top and two clear of the remainder. Grace was matched for 17k at just 2.35/4 but seconds later the dream of backing a US Open winner at 180.0179/1 was as good as over...
Having been rock solid all day long, Grace hit his drive out of bounds and Spieth was back in command. A double-bogey for Grace and a Spieth birdie saw the Texan lead by three with two to play and fortunes were matched at all rates down to 1.061/18. It looked a done deal but this memorable marathon has a few surprises left...
Spieth hit the most terrible tee-shot at the par 17th before three-putting for double bogey and all of a sudden he was tied for the lead with Louis Oosthuizen who had already posted a four-under-par 276 total. To his credit, Spieth immediately refocused and birdied the last but with Johnson rolling in a six-footer for birdie at 17 to pull alongside Oosthuizen, an 18-hole playoff today looked the most likely outcome.
Johnson bombed his drive to within five iron distance of the green at the par 5 finishing hole and hit a glorious approach to 13 feet. All of a sudden, Spieth was once again second favourite, with DJ, who had spiked at 240.0239/1 not long previously, was trading at around 1.758/11. Spieth backers were praying that they'd get a chance today but with Johnson rolling his eagle putt four feet by, it was soon apparent that it might not even go that far. It didn't.
Tragically, Johnson missed the return putt and Spieth, nicknamed the 'Golden Child' -a tag he understandably doesn't like - was making yet more history. He's now the youngest player ever to win the US Masters and the US Open, the youngest to win multiple majors since Gene Sarazen in 1922, the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 and he's just the sixth player to win the first two majors of the year. The last to do it was Tiger Woods in 2002 and the other four to achieve the feat were Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
The Grand Slam is now on - Spieth can be backed at 34.033/1 to pull it off - and if they weren't already, appetites are well and truly whetted for the Open Championship at St. Andrews in just four weeks time.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, having backed both Spieth and Grace before the off, once they'd started so well, trading my way to profit was fairly straightforward this week. I didn't do an awful lot last night but I did back both Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott and 55.054/1 and 65.064/1 respectively, as they moved through the field and I also layed some of my Grace bet back at 2.77/4.
A Grace win would have been lovely, not just for me but for the whole team. Paul Krishnamurty made the South African one of his two Find Me a Winner selections (met both lay targets) and Dave Tindall plumped for him at halfway at 12/1 each-way. He came oh so close and gave us all a fantastic run for our money but on a personal note, having Spieth triumph was compensation aplenty.
Will We Ever See Chambers Bay Again?
I absolutely loved the venue and I take onboard that the greens were atrocious but I really do wish we were coming back here. Sadly, I don't think we ever will.
With a finish so theatrical and a leaderboard containing the best three players on the planet, an outsider to the sport would wonder how on earth the USGA wouldn't return but with so many players constantly whining about the place (see Chris Kirk's tweet below), it's hard to envisage they will come back. I think the best I can hope for is a USPGA Championship in half a dozen years or more but I won't hold my breath.
Will Dustin Johnson Ever Win a Major?
I'm not convinced he will. Having fluffed his lines at a major championship for a third time at least, I have to wonder how much disappointment the poor bloke can stand. This latest disappointment could take months and even years to overcome.
He turns 31 today so time is most certainly on his side but he won't get too many better chances than he had this week. The course was ideal, his game was in great shape, and after he'd messed up once, his opponents gave him another chance. The door was opened wide but he still couldn't convert.
He blew a four-stroke lead at the US Open in 2010, was awarded the harshest of two stroke penalties at Whistling Straights in the USPGA Championship just a few months later, and he went out of bounds at Royal St George's in the Open Championship, just as he looked like assuming command, in 2011. This was his fourth golden opportunity and with the likes of Spieth and Rory dominating (they now hold all four majors) and with the likes of Cameron Smith et al emerging, I have to wonder how many more chances he'll get.
After a busy week, and a number of very late nights, I'm a bit behind with my research this week so this week's previews, for the BMW International Open and the Travelers Championship won't be published until tomorrow.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter