Zach Johnson with the Claret Jug
I was watching the (British) Open Championship and a Masters Tournament broke out! A crowd of 47 billion players was in the hunt, with somewhere around nine players holding or sharing the lead during the final round today, Monday.
History Almost Made
The storyline possibilities coming into the final round were all-world. The hype coming into the event of course was the possibility that Jordan Spieth could capture the 3rd leg of golf’s “grand slam,” winning all four major championships in one season. Spieth was close all day and an unlikely 50 foot birdie putt on the 16th made it seem as if his fate was to win. At that point he was tied for the lead. Unfortunately Spieth is better from over 20 feet than he is from eight feet. He missed an eight footer for par on the 17th Road Hole to drop back to one shot behind the lead. Fortunately he had the super-easy 18th hole, a driveable par-4. Left with an awkward shot which was between clubs, Spieth’s 2nd shot found the “Valley of Sin,” a depression short of the green. The birdie putt to join a playoff was off-left. Grand slam dream over.
An even more unlikely and probably more historic dream was the possibility that an amateur could win the Open. 22-year-old Paul Dunne incredibly had brought himself to a tie for the lead after three rounds and was in the final group. The last time an amateur was in the final group in the Open was Bobby Jones in 1927. Nerves were too much for Dunne, who finished with a 78, taking him out of low amateur honors. Still, he impressed the golfing world. We’ll see him again.
Jason Day was one shot off of entering the playoff, along with Spieth. At 25 I wonder if anyone has come so close in majors, so many times by this age. Heartbreak hotel. I really like Day and hope his time will come.
Adam Scott was in the mix. He completely melted on the final nine with a 40 which included missing a putt which looked to be no more than 12-18 inches. That’s why he has the anchored putter I suppose. Despite his 40, he still shot 71. Wow.
Marc Leishman was one of three players to enter the 4-hole aggregate playoff, the other being Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen. Leishman’s story is one of inspiration, having nearly lost his wife to sickness. In the playoff he could only manage +2.
Louis Oosthuizen made birdie on the 18th to join the playoff. He struck the ball fairly poorly in the final round but managed his way well enough to tie for the lead at the end. Even par for the four playoff holes (1, 2, 17, 18) was one stroke shy.
Hats off to Zach Johnson. He managed his game around the Old Course, which was being eaten alive by long hitters for the first couple of days. Johnson’s win is mostly attributable to his short game. Hitting 94% of his fairways didn’t hurt, however. Johnson birdied the first two playoff holes to open up a lead and never gave the lead up. Surprisingly and quietly, Johnson stuck around and produced winning shots at the perfect time to become the champion golfer of the year.
Missed the Cut
Tiger Woods… what can be said about Woods? He shot his worst round ever at the Old Course (76) in the first round and couldn’t get it together. Woods’s fall from the top is perhaps the biggest, fastest, most dramatic fall from the pinnacle the sporting world has seen. Woods said he needed to check his spin rates to see what the problem was.
Yeah, go do that.
Bubba Watson has the length to eat up the Old Course, but links golf is a bit of a mystery to him. When he figures it out he could win an Open, but as long as it frustrates him he will not be a factor.
Tom Watson’s history in the Open Championship is nearly without comparison, unless you go back to the 1800’s when Old Tom Morris was winning the even almost yearly. Five times Watson has hoisted the Claret Jug. Watson said goodbye to major championship golf on the Swilken Bridge, just like Jack Nicklaus did 10 years ago in 2005.
Thanks for the memories Tom. Well played.
The Old Course
The Old Course played a little too easy for my taste this time around. Players were taking divots and spinning balls back on some of the greens. The ground has been so hard every time I’ve played there that I never saw a single divot. In fact, getting a tee in the ground was a chore. I would have liked to see the Old Lady show her teeth a little more with harder surfaces and more wind.
2015 was a fantastic open. So many great stories, some which I covered. The Open Championship is always special at the Old Course in St Andrews.
On a course where many complained the big hitters had an unfair advantage, the player with the best short game won.
I’m a bit hammered this morning. Certainly a case of U.S. Open hangover. I had expected to be getting ready to watch a Monday playoff today, the day after Sunday’s final U.S. Open round. Dustin Johnson’s stunning and heartbreaking 3-putt on the final hole nixed that great idea. Boy I feel bad for the guy. He looked like he’d seen a ghost after that 3-putt. I probably would have thrown up after that, if I was in that situation. Hell, I would have probably thrown up before each putt…
Hats off to Jordan Spieth for putting the winning number up on the board and putting the pressure on DJ to tie him. The Spieth story is becoming legendary in a very short period of time. It is quite a time in golf, with Tiger seemingly on the way out and Spieth and McIlory taking over.
Chambers Bay quickly became a very polarizing topic of discussion on golf TV, interwebs, and socials. Having been to Chambers Bay myself, and playing dozens of rounds of golf in Scotland, I’m a fan of hard, fast, brown golf. So I get what course architect Robert Trent Jones II was going after. The course’s location though, meant not just hard conditions, but Poa annua grass on the greens. We deal with Poa here in Salt Lake too. It grows faster than other grasses and has tougher leaves. So when a green isn’t 100% Poa (like Pebble Beach), it gets bumpy. It can be very frustrating to putt on greens like that and many pros voiced their displeasure with the bumps, along with their displeasure of the USGA setup. Fans see a brown course and think it is dead. They expect golf to be like Augusta National and the Masters Tournament. In reality, almost no courses have that kind of budget and with water as short as it is becoming, minimalist brown golf is the future. Plus, it is more fun in my opinion.
Chambers Bay – Click for more…
I engaged (perhaps still) in some great debates on my Twitter and Facebook pages with friends about the setup and conditions. It seems, almost like the fans or haters of Tiger Woods, that people either loved the course or hated it.
Gary Player had some pretty harsh commentary about Chambers Bay. I was quite surprised he called out RTJ like he did. Then again, he’s a golf course architect and RTJ is a competitor who just had his course featured in the U.S. Open. So I take his commentary in that context a bit:
On Sunday the greens looked to be rolling quite well. Spieth made an incredible long-range putt for birdie on the 16th which had perfect speed and dropped in on the side of the hole. No bumps there. DJ’s 3-putts all rolled nicely, unfortunately for him the first two didn’t roll nicely into the hole.
Well if the golf media wasn’t already in a Spiethgasm, they will be now. Be ready for the Spieth-slam talk, and for the ever popular “will Spieth break Jack’s major championship record?” drivel. That of course between the “hottest women in golf” and “hot wives and girlfriends” photo gallery garbage.
How can you not have a Spiethgasm though? This 21 year old kid is doing something special, and I’m glad I’m here to witness it. What’s more is he’s not an overpowering player like Tiger Woods was (yeah I said was). He’s not long, but he’s long enough. There are really no holes in his game. No weaknesses I can see. The next few years are going to be a joy to watch.
I felt really bad for DJ after the 3-putt. The look on his face was unreal. He was melting. I melted too. He’s had many chances to close out majors. Undoubtedly he has the game. He needs to overcome the pressure and mental aspects of winning the big ones and he’ll get it done.
What’s wrong with Tiger Woods? A lot apparently. After rounds of 80 (+10) and 76 (+6) he went home early. I tuned in just in time Friday to watch him DUFF a 3-wood. It was a horrid shot, so bad that I recorded it and watched it several times in disbelief. There were so many things wrong with that particular swing that it looked like a 15 handicapper.
There are many theories as to what Tiger’s problem is. A new one discussed in my golf group is his possible fear that his will be the biggest fall from the top in sports history. I don’t know what the problem is, and it is likely a combination of many many things. Physically he looks fine, which leaves the only possible solutions within the 5-inch course between his ears.
I watched Jason Day collapse on the 18th hole Saturday, a result of vertigo. Man that’s terrible and I felt for the guy. He did manage to finish the tournament but what a story it would have been had he won the tournament. A valiant effort by Day.
Rory McIlory is no Tiger Woods. Tiger was much more consistent when in his best years. Rory is super-streaky. When he’s hot, nobody can beat him. When not, he can miss cuts. McIlory showed some life in the tournament, but in the end was not a factor. No worries about his game. That’s the way he rolls.
Wow tough deal for Branden Grace (also known as “Branden Gracen” on the Fox broadcast). Standing on the 16th tee he was at -5, tied with Spieth, two shots ahead of the nearest competitors. One swing later his 3-wood goes out of bounds and kills his chances of winning. Brutal.
Fox Sports Coverage
Funny how so many people hated the Fox Sports coverage of the Open, even before they saw it. It seems those same people hated the course before they saw it in action as well. I didn’t expect the Fox broadcast to be perfect and it certainly was not. There were dozens of instances of bad camera work, shaky commentary, and technical issues.
There was a little too much talking, almost like baseball announcers who think they have to fill up all the dead space with sound. Many complain(ed) that all Greg Norman does is talk about himself. Seemed like Greg was fine to me and not this self centered personality they made him out to be.
What I did like was the drone coverage, since I too build and fly drones, mostly for flying over golf courses and shooting video and photos.
Many complained about not seeing the shots, and I agree. Fox had it tough though, having to break themselves in at such a difficult venue.
Overall I’d give Fox a C grade and I do expect they’ll analyze what they did, listen to the critics, and try to improve their product.
In the end the 2015 U.S. Open was exciting, controversial with regards to course setup like EVERY U.S. Open is, and produced a stellar leader board of the world’s best golfers. The USGA got what they wanted, a handful of players under par and a test that filtered out all but one of the top two players in the world as its champion.
Fox Sports is taking a beating for its golf broadcasts from many out there who think they can do better or know better. Hat’s off to Fox Sports for introducing drone coverage to the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. As a “drone pilot” and builder of several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) myself, I’m stoked to see some new looks.
I’m miffed that Fox Sports didn’t hire me to do this gig though. I have to be the world’s best combination golf/drone authority.
Chambers Bay – Click for more…
Thanks to the PR for DirecTV for sending in the information about their “Open Experience” this week. DTV has some very cool coverage over several channels which blows away regular single channel TV viewing of what may be the carnage at Chambers Bay.
Fans can watch the world’s best golfers take on the unforgiving Chambers Bay course at the 2015 U.S. Open on four different TV channels when they tune into DIRECTV’s U.S. Open Experience, beginning Thursday, June 18. The four-screens-in-one HD mix channel and interactive app are part of DIRECTV’s expanded coverage of this year’s second major.
Each channel of the U.S. Open Mix (701 & 205) is in HD and fully produced with its own announcers, and will include:
- The network feed from Fox Sports (702)
- Featured Group (703): This Thursday’s groups are: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera, teeing off at 7:33 a.m. PT; and Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Louis Oosthuizen at 2:28 p.m. PT.
- Featured holes (704) are the 12th and 15th
- U.S. Open 360 (705), an all-access look from the grounds of Chambers Bay – behind-the-scenes to action on the course.
Loading times for the interactive app will be even faster this year. Users can select the red button to bring up a list of features alongside the broadcast video that include:
- Player Scorecard
- Contains key bio info, player headshots, scores and stats
New this year – Additional Stats
The top 10 players will have the following stats made available on their scorecard:
- Their best finish at the U.S. Open
- Their finish at The U.S. Open 2014
- The number of titles they’ve won at the U.S. Open
- Player Bio
Allows users to get player bio info, access to their scorecard or add player to their favorites list
- Pairings and Tee Times
- All the groups and tee times for the current round
Mix Broadcast dates: June 18-21 Times in PST
6/18 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. FS1
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. FOX Sports
6/19 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. FS1
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. FOX Sports
6/20 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. FOX Sports
6/21 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. FOX Sports
Jordan Spieth – 2015 Masters Champion
I say it every year. The Masters never disappoints. 2015 is no exception, though some were critical of the Sunday round. I agree that it was not a typical Masters Sunday, with many players “charging” and contending, swapping the lead. Because Jordan Spieth was so dominant the first three days and did not wilt in the final round, there were no Sunday charges to be had.
After Thursday’s 64 I predicted a golf media “premature Spiethgasm,” knowing the media was going to go all ga-ga over Spieth. With the downward direction in Tiger Woods’s game, it seems the media is trying to glom onto a new nipple. Now that Spieth finished the 2015 Masters off in a classy, multi-record-breaking fashion, the golf media now has my permission to enter their full-on Spiethgasm. Lock it on.
It was truly an impressive week. Spieth is the real deal, no doubt. I had the opportunity to cover Jordan when he was 16 years old and made the cut in a PGA Tour event, the Byron Nelson. Yes, 16 years old.
He’s not a bomber like Dustin Johnson, but long enough. He’s not a short game wizard like Phil Mickelson, but his short game is solid (up-and-down on 54th hole for example). I find it hard to pinpoint a signature part of Spieth’s game. I’m not sure what his strengths are. It would seem his game is so balanced, that his strength is a lack of weakness in any area. The only minor issues this past week which did cost him some strokes here and there, was the occasional blocked drive to the right.
Jordan’s world ranking is now #2, right behind Rory McIlory. I love how different the styles between these two is and look forward to a budding rivalry between them in the years to come.
It was slightly difficult to watch Tiger Woods this weekend. You could tell he was trying as hard as ever, and after two solid middle rounds we even saw a fist pump, like the old days. Also like the old days, we saw the whirly-bird driver flying out of his hands and heard on a national broadcast “oh my f***ing God,” when he duck-hooked a drive into the left trees on the par-5 13th.
Tiger looked pretty good to me. No back issues. Short game looked decent. The part of his game that looked bad was his driving, with the head dipping down drastically. When he does that bad things happen. Is Tiger “back?” I’m not sure he could ever be back to what he once was. Time will tell.
When Tiger hit that root in the final round and hurt his hand I was thinking to myself, “oh no, not another withdraw due to injury.” I’m glad he was able to “put the bone back in place,” or whatever it was he did.
I actually dreamed Saturday night that Phil won his 4th green jacket. He put on a good show, and perhaps might have won if Spieth wasn’t in the field. It was a great showing by Phil, with many entertaining shots. I was surprised how often he used putter off the greens this time around.
Maybe that dream was a premonition for 2016 or beyond.
I had a “feeling” Rory McIlory would not be in contention. He started out slow but showed that he could play Augusta National very well. But in the end, he didn’t have enough this week. I feel the self imposed pressure he has on himself to complete the career Grand Slam by winning the Masters will make it much more had to win at Augusta than it should be. No doubt he has the game to win there, but his mind might get in his way.
Charley Hoffman was a pleasant surprise this past week. He had the lead for a while and was right up there most of the weekend. Amazing what cutting off the mullet can do for one’s golf game.
Justin Rose was the closest threat to Spieth. The guy is a total stud. Fearless. I really like his game and his style. He’s gutsy.
Dustin Johnson set a Masters record with three eagles in one round. That’s impressive.
Jason Day and Adam Scott didn’t do close to as well as I thought they would.
Of course, it was nice to see the goodbye tour of Ben Crenshaw Friday.
Naturally, Augusta National looked as great as ever. It played a little easier than I thought. Perhaps they’ve accepted that they’re not a U.S. Open and it is okay for players to make birdies. That style of golf is more exciting for most “patrons.”
The second Jordan Spieth made the final, winning putt I couldn’t help but look forward to the 2016 Masters Tournament. Only 360 days to go!