Fans lining the fairways at Erin Hills let players know when a long wedge shot to the green meets approval.
When University Place’s Michael Putnam landed his approach 5 feet from the pin on No. 11 on Sunday afternoon, the gallery cheered.
One fan even hollered his approval as Putnam walked to the green.
“That’s cheddar,” he shouted.
But Putnam needed a bit more. Under drastically different conditions, he shot a 3-over-par 75 in the final round of the 117th United States Open.
Putnam was coming off of back-to-back under-par rounds Friday and Saturday, but winds kicked up to 30 mph on Sunday, yielding higher scores.
“A little bitter about today,” Putnam said.
He shot his worst single-round score of the week, but the 34-year-old turned in the best U.S. Open finish of his career.
Putnam tied for 35th at 1-over 289, eclipsing his two previous finishes at Congressional in 2011 (45th) and Oakmont in 2007 (55th).
“It’s fun to be out here and play under the most brutal conditions you can play under,” Putnam said. “It tests your nerve, tests your skill, tests your game.”
He was tied for 30th at 2-under entering the final day, before the harsh weather rolled in and affected scores across the field.
“Every hole was hard,” Putnam said. “Every hole you were just fighting to make par, hoping to have a birdie putt.
“It was a tough day of golf. This was the Erin Hills teeth people wanted to see, and they got it on Sunday.”
Putnam bogeyed four holes — including three-putting Nos. 4, 9 and 10 — before recovering with his birdie on No. 11.
“When it’s windy, you can’t three-putt,” he said. “You get on the green and you’ve got to get in for par. So, a little bitter about the finish there.”
But, as he has most of the week, Putnam rallied on the back nine, where he shot even-par or better the final three days of the championship.
With the wind ripping at his back, he sunk another birdie putt at No. 14, after spinning his approach shot to 5 feet beyond the hole.
“I turned at 3-over today, and even-par on the back nine is a really good score,” Putnam said. “I just kept grinding and played the back nine pretty well.”
Following the fifth U.S. Open appearance of his career, Putnam said he has learned this — golf is hard.
Particularly so on the final day at Erin Hills in rough conditions, but he was satisfied with the final result.
“I came out this week (tied for) 35th place,” Putnam said. “I think that’s a pretty good week.”