For 115 years, the United States Open Championship has aimed to challenge the best professional golfers in the world with tough greens, narrow fairways, and thick rough. The winner must show resilience, determination, and be willing to take risks. No one did these three things better this year than 21-year-old Jordan Spieth, who on Sunday became the youngest U.S. Open champion since 1923.
Having shot rounds of 68, 67, and 71, respectively, going into championship Sunday, Spieth was in good position to win the tournament at four shots under par, tied for a four-way lead.
After bogeying the first hole in his final round, Spieth quickly recovered, making par on the next six holes and a birdie on 8 to remain at four under through nine holes.
Following birdies on the 12th and 16th holes, Spieth looked as if he were running away with the trophy. However, after double-bogeying the 17th, he found himself back at four under in yet another tie for the lead, with Louis Oosthuizen, who finished in the group ahead of Spieth, and Dustin Johnson, who was in the final pairing, behind Spieth.
On the par-5 18th hole, Spieth landed his tee shot on the edge of a fairway bunker, then hit his next shot with a 3-wood to put himself in position to take a two-shot lead with a putt for eagle.
After a near miss on his first putt, Spieth tapped in for birdie to take the lead by one shot with only one group yet to finish.
That last group included Johnson, now one shot back of the lead. Like Spieth, Johnson hit a monster tee shot that found the fairway, then put the ball within 16 feet of the cup.
Johnson could win the Open with an eagle, or he could send the Open to an 18-hole Monday playoff with Spieth with a birdie. His first putt missed wide left and kicked out about six feet from the cup.
His birdie try rimmed the cup, ending up about three feet away. He tapped in for par to tie for second place at two under and give Spieth his second major tournament win in as many tries.
Spieth, who won the Masters in April, now has the opportunity to complete a season Grand Slam — winning all four of golf’s major championships (the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship) in the same calendar year — a feat that has not been accomplished since the Masters became a tournament, in 1934.
After the trophy presentation, Spieth was in disbelief. “It’s hard,” he said. “I’m still amazed that I won, let alone that we weren’t playing tomorrow...I haven’t been able to put anything into perspective yet.”
Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
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