Punch Shot: Who will win the U.S. Open?

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2015, 4:45 am

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – There's plenty to ponder with three rounds of the U.S Open in the books.

Can Jordan Spieth win his second straight major? Can Jason Day author the story of the year by winning his first Big One while battling vertigo? Can Dustin Johnson avenge his past near-misses? Is Branden Grace ready to break though on the big stage? Or will it be someone outside the four co-leaders who crashes the party?

Our writers make their picks for the final round at Chambers Bay:


Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth’s greatest strength is that he has no weaknesses. He’s an above-average driver. He’s a supreme iron player. And he’s the best putter on the planet.

Sure, he took 32 swipes Saturday and has eight three-putts this week, but who would you rather trust with a must-make 5-footer in the finalround of a major: Dustin Johnson, who has a history of major-championship miscues; Jason Day, who was so woozy Saturday that he didn’t speak with the assembled media; and Branden Grace, who before this week didn’t have a top-15 in a major.

Spieth hasn’t been at his best this week, but Chambers Bay is the perfect fit for his game – the fairways are accommodating, and his short game can shine around the large, undulating greens.

The 21-year-old stands out on a ’board littered with mentally fragile players. With unwavering confidence, Spieth will take another step toward history Sunday.


Jason Day

Day's caddie, Colin Swatton, compared his performance on Saturday at Chambers Bay to Tiger Woods’ victory at the 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg, and if the Australian is to finally win his first major on Sunday, it will take another heroic performance in Round 4.

But if anyone in the field has proven to have the ability to negotiate an extremely demanding Chambers Bay layout as well as benign positional vertigo, which Day was diagnosed with after collapsing at the end of his second round on Friday, it is the 27 year old.

Hampered by injuries throughout his career, from thumb and back ailments last year to an ankle problem in 2013, Day has still become one of the game’s brightest stars with three PGA Tour titles and numerous brushes at major championships.

Similarly, he withstood multiple bouts with vertigo on Saturday on his way to a third-round 68 which included a closing nine of 31 to claim a share of the lead and a spot in the Sunday’s final pairing.

He will need an equally-inspired performance on Sunday, but after so many near misses and medical issues, Day is poised to end his title drought in style.


Jordan Spieth

Of the top 14 players on the leaderboard only two (Jordan Spieth, Louis Oosthuizen) have won a major championship. Give me the one who has won most recently and is tied at the top. Give me Spieth.

He did not play well Saturday and still managed to shoot 71 and remained tied for the lead. It’s hard to believe he’ll play poorly in this type of pressure-cooker environment for a second consecutive day with so much on the line. He’s a gamer, he understands the significance of this moment and he has experiences to draw upon from his Masters victory just two short months ago.

With Rory McIlroy struggling the past month, Spieth is the best player in the game right now. He has the swagger, he has the game and he has an uncanny ability to get the ball in the hole when he needs to most.

Spieth may not win, but he won’t give it away either. I’ll take my chances with him down the stretch.


Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson will leave Chambers Bay with the U.S. Open trophy – even if, in the event of a playoff, he has to wait until Monday to claim it.

I predicted Jordan Spieth to triumph when the week began, but I’m calling an audible. For my money, DJ is playing the best of the quartet of co-leaders from which a winner is likely to emerge, and he successfully bounced back from a mediocre close to his second round. The bad stuff – the wobbly finish that Spieth just endured during his third round – is already behind Johnson.

Johnson has always been one of the world’s longest drivers, but this week he is also one of the best. After finding each of the 14 fairways during a third-round 70, it’s clear that his swing remains grooved heading into Sunday’s pressure-cooker, where his deft touch around the greens will again prove helpful. He has been here before – whether at Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits or Royal St. George’s – but he now appears strong enough to handle the elements and finally claim his maiden major. 

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.