By WILL GRAY
It’s not the most pleasant memory, but years from now when we look back on 2015 the singular image will be Dustin Johnson giving away the U.S. Open on the 72nd green.
The emotional roller-coaster that ensued from Johnson’s three-putt at Chambers Bay was certainly tumultuous, as players and viewers alike were left in a state of shock – none more so than Johnson, who took off his cap, adjusted his hair and looked around as if to try to identify a driver in a hit-and-run. For a player already with plenty of major championship scar tissue, Johnson added another layer that could prove even more painful than his bunker episode from Whistling Straits.
Doug Sanders. Scott Hoch. Short misses with a major on the line go down in the annals of the game, and Johnson had the misfortune of joining them in the Pacific Northwest. In a year with plenty of wins worth celebrating, it will be a loss that lingers the most.
By REX HOGGARD
There is no more iconic place in golf than the corner of Golf Place and The Links, the two byways that frame the Old Course’s 18th hole, which makes it apropos that the year’s most memorable moment would occur at the famous crossroads.
It was a compelling snapshot in the Monday gloom as Zach Johnson was cementing his legacy with his second major triumph at July’s Open Championship as Jordan Spieth waited quietly behind the Royal & Ancient clubhouse to congratulate him.
More than an hour had passed since Spieth’s historic bid to become the first player in the modern era to collect the first three legs of the single-season Grand Slam had slid past the cup on the same 18th hole, but there he was waiting in line to applaud Johnson.
Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, stood quietly with him, clearly still stunned by his man’s missed birdie putt at the last that would have secured “Team Jordan” a spot in the playoff, but Spieth simply smiled as he embraced Johnson.
“To have a champion like Jordan take the time on 18 to give me best wishes,” Johnson said. “He's a phenomenal talent, and I'm telling you right now he's a better person than he is golfer.”
By RANDALL MELL
Rickie Fowler’s eloquent answer: After knocking his tee shot to 5 feet at the famed 17th island hole in May to set up his playoff victory at The Players Championship, and after kissing his then bikini model girlfriend coming off the green, Fowler was asked about being voted overrated by his peers. He patted his new trophy and smiled.
“If there was any question, this right here answers anything you need to know,” Fowler said.
Fowler couldn’t have been more eloquent with his shot making that remarkable Sunday in May. He didn’t have to say much afterward.
By RYAN LAVNER
The Open Championship had an odd feel this year. Torrential rain and a 10-hour wind delay led to the first Monday finish since 1988, and over the weekend there was a strangely eclectic leaderboard that included, among others, Dustin Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Adam Scott and Danny Willett.
Jordan Spieth, trying to win his third consecutive major, seemed like he had putted his way out of contention; midway through the final round, he four-putted for double bogey. He was done. Except then he made back-to-back birdies. Except then he played steady as the others faltered. Suddenly, he was only one shot back.
The action was reaching a crescendo, so I made a beeline for the 16th green. I got there just as Spieth was stalking his 40-footer birdie putt. He looked at it from every angle. Caddie Michael Greller nodded in agreement. The Old Course stood still. Spieth stroked the putt, and with a few feet to go he knew it was in. He pumped his fist, and the place exploded, and in that moment it all felt possible – that a 21-year-old was going to with the Open, capture the first three legs of the Grand Slam, and head to Whistling Straits as the biggest story in sports, with a chance to author the greatest golf season ever.
We all know what happened next, of course, but the electricity of that single moment was something I’ll never forget.