After Further Review: Spieth wins 115th U.S. Open

By Randall MellJune 21, 2015, 6:10 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most compelling, thrilling U.S. Opens of all time. It was one of heroics and heartbreak, where Jordan Spieth was ultimately named victor and Dustin Johnson three-putted the 72nd hole to come up one stroke short.

It’s time to stop considering Jordan Spieth an average ballstriker with a stellar putting touch. When he won in April at Augusta National, some dubbed the 21-year-old a one-dimensional player who would contend or crash depending on that silky putting stroke.

This week at Chambers Bay, however, proved there is more to Spieth than just clutch putting. For the tournament he ranked 15th in putting (1.75 average) and had five three-putts, including at the first hole on Sunday for bogey.

Instead, it was timely driving, solid play with his irons and a walk-off 3-wood at the last to 16 feet for a two-putt birdie that lifted Spieth to victory and the notion he is a one-dimensional player off his young shoulders. – Rex Hoggard

What a head-scratching thriller.

This may be the most baffling U.S. Open ever. If you believe all the complaints players leveled at Chambers Bay this week, you would think this U.S. Open would go down as one of the worst ever. And yet it’s destined to be remembered as one of the most fascinating, compelling and thrilling U.S. Opens ever.

Long before the final putt dropped, this U.S. Open was damned as the “most unpleasant golf tournament ever,” with its “eggplant” fairways, “broccoli” greens and “dumbest-ever” holes. The USGA was told it should be “ashamed of itself” for taking the championship to Chambers Bay. Yet, somehow, some way, the USGA delivered a classic. It set up a stage that delivered star power and drama in an unforgettable finish.

If you believe the overwhelming opinion of tour pros, the U.S. Open has apparently become the Mae West of majors. When it’s good, it’s very good, but when it’s bad, it’s better. - Randall Mell

After spending a week at Chambers Bay, the word that I keep coming back to is silly. Sure, it’s a serviceable test set against a stunning backdrop, and it crowned a worthy (and well-known) champion. But the lengths to which the field was pushed, the struggles the fans had getting around its hilly terrain, and the odd quirks and bounces that often meant shots separated by a foot could end up 40 yards apart – it was all silly.

Surely many will use Jordan Spieth’s victory as validation of Chambers Bay as a U.S. Open venue, as if a couple shots here or there from Branden Grace or Cameron Smith would have meant that the entire body of work might have been judged differently.

But the 72-hole product was one that was met with an avalanche of criticism, both from names well down the standings and those on the final leaderboard. This was a grand experiment by the USGA, and while the final hour was nothing short of thrilling, the days leading up to it produced far too many headaches.

Lee Westwood may have put it best: this is a great course to take a few buddies out, and perhaps a six-pack of beer, for a friendly round. But to use this as the stage for one of golf’s biggest championships? That’s just silly. – Will Gray

Dustin Johnson will win a major someday, probably win more than one. But he’s had four legit chances to win and has found a way to fumble each one away.

No question, each hurts in its own, different way. The final-round 82 was over quickly five years ago at Pebble Beach, the bunker snafu later that year at Whistling Straits was a freak thing and the errant 2-iron on the 14th hole at Royal St. Georges in 2011 was inexcusable. But this one has to hurt the most.

DJ held a two-shot lead, squandered it away, then played stellar golf on the last two holes to have an opportunity to win because of a Jordan Spieth double bogey on the 17th hole and then he three-putts from 13 feet? Come on.

One day, perhaps, Johnson will be able to sit down and appreciate his career. But no matter the major tally, he’ll always know it should’ve been more. – Jay Coffin

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.