Golf

US Open final round recap: Oosthuizen comes up just short

Highlights from the final round Sunday of the U.S. Open at chambers Bay in University Place (check back throughout the day for updates):

OOSTHUIZEN CAN’T QUITE OVERCOME DAY ONE

Louis Oosthuizen tore up Chambers Bay for three days, closing out the U.S. Open with rounds of 66, 66 and 67.

It was a first-round 77 playing with Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler, both of whom missed the cut, that created too big of a hole for the 32-year-old South African to dig out of.

“I think after my start the first round., I’m very happy with where I am now,” he said with the silver medal hanging from his neck.

Oosthuizen, winner of the 2012 Masters, finished by birdying six of the final seven holes. He was tied for the lead with Spieth when he walked of the course. But Spieth birdied the 18th moments later.

“I felt very relaxed. I felt very eager to get to the next hole and get some birdies coming,” Oosthuizen said. “I wasn’t nervous at all. I’ll take a lot of this week, especially the last three days.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

JOHNSON’S PUTT BOUNCES OUT

After week of players complaining about the greens at Chambers Bay, Dustin Johnson says the putt that cost him a playoff at the U.S. Open “bounced left.”

“They do bounce and when they are fast and bumpy, it's tough to get it in the hole,” Johnson said. “Whatever the putt did on the last hole, I don't know. I might have pulled it a little bit. But still to me it looked like it bounced left. It's tough. It's very difficult.”

Johnson who also missed an eagle putt that would have won the tournament, said he was disappointed.

“I played really well,” he said. “I didn't make any putts today, I really didn't. I had all the chances in the world. I'm really proud of the way I hit ball. Proud of the way I handled myself all day. I gave myself chances all day long. If I rolled the putter halfway decent today … I win this thing by a few shots, it's not even close. It's just how it goes. I thought I played really well. I did everything that I could. I tried my damndest to get in the hole I just couldn't do it.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

SPIETH WINS SECOND STRAIGHT MAJOR

Jordan Spieth wasn’t too caught up in winning his second major of the year to not have some sympathy for runner-up Dustin Johnson.

Johnson three-putted on the 18th, costing himself the win and then a playoff.

“I feel for Dustin,” Spieth said, “but I haven't been able to put anything in perspective yet.”

Spieth birdied the final hole to offset his own mistake. He double-bogeyed No. 17, blowing a brief 3-stroke lead he built on No. 16.

“I knew I needed to fade the ball off the tee (on No. 18) and I struck it right on the middle of the face,” Spieth said. “That's the only way I could have kept it short of the second bunker. I said, ‘Put it in the fairway, give yourself a chance.’

“It got right up there on the upslope, I couldn't have placed it in a better spot. The next 3-wood, very, very pure. Any little bit of breeze up there held it up. For how undeserving maybe after I played 17, that break was on 18, for it to funnel down and then to stay up by a foot on that ledge, I just wanted to get a good putt. But with the right speed. I felt like that's what I did. … When I finished I was just hoping to be playing tomorrow.”

Spieth says he thinks the magnitude of his accomplishment will settle in sometime Sunday night.

“I think it will sink in a little quicker than the Masters did given that it's already happened but, boy, what a team effort,” said Spieth, the 21-year-old whose caddie, Michael Greller, is from Gig Harbor. “What a team effort the whole week. I didn't have my best stuff and we were able to get it done. Michael knew this course better than anybody playing this week and he made sure I was in the right spots without my best stuff and that's why I won.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

‘ONE BAD SWING’ ON 16TH COSTS GRACE

One shot – one memorably wild shot – crushed Branden Grace’s hopes of a U.S. Open title Sunday.

Grace started Sunday among four golfers tied for the lead, and he remained in the thick of things until he sent his tee shot at 16 far right, onto a path and finally wedging under a chain-link fence separating the Chambers Bay course from the train tracks along the banks of Puget Sound. He carded a double bogey 6.

“This whole week was a great experience,” he said after his round. “I hit the ball great. I played some great golf under the pressure. This was definitely the most pressure I’ve had to deal with in my professional career so far. It was a pity it came down to this. If I didn’t win I would have liked to maybe finish second or something around there. But like I said, I didn’t really do a lot wrong. … It was just one bad swing that cost me.”

Grace, a South African, finished among three golfers tied for fourth at 3 under par.

Don Ruiz, staff writer

SMITH FINISHES STRONG

Cameron Smith, playing in his first U.S. Open, was as surprised as anybody with his finish at Chambers Bay.

Smith, 21, eagled the final hole to finished 2 under par for the day and 3 under for the tournament. The put him a tie for fourth place with Adam Scott and Branden Grace.

“I wasn't really expecting it, to be honest,” Smith said. “I just wanted to get it somewhere on the green and hopefully I would have putted it. But to finish up and have a tap-in for eagle is a nice way to end.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

SNEDEKER FINISHES 2-UNDER

Brandt Snedeker finished the U.S. Open with a 2-under-par 68 Sunday that put him at 1 under par for the tournament.

The 34-year-old had nothing but good things to say about a course with which so many have expressed displeasure.

“I had a blast,” Snedeker said. “I understand guys were complaining about the greens, whatever it might be. But I played on quite a few greens that were just as bad, if not worse, than this on the PGA Tour.

“I think we get kind of in the moment of the tournament and get wrapped up in everything, and everything at majors seems to be turned on overdose. Every little thing sets you off. I thought the ball rolled fine, and if you hit good putts they'll go in. You can't beat the venue. The vistas out there were gorgeous.

“I thought the golf course played great. And you're going to have a great champion. The guys on the top of the leaderboard are all quality players and are going to be great champions. I think it's a great venue.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

SCOTT CARDS 64, IN CLUBHOUSE AT MINUS-3

Adam Scott produced the low-round of this U.S. Open on Sunday, a 6 under par 64 that dropped him to 3 under for the tournament.

“I needed to make a run today, and it was interesting as I went along just to see how the course was set up,” he said. “I thought it was set up quite short today, and look, I played really well and I took advantage of some holes playing a bit shorter, and didn’t have any disasters out there and hit a few good shots. It’s kind of what I needed to think about even having a chance.”

As Scott spoke around 5:30 p.m., he was fourth on the leader board: one shot behind Dustin Johnson and two behind Branden Grace and Jordan Spieth. That left him close enough to hope that he might yet end with not just the low round of the tournament, but the low score over 72 holes –or 90 if necessary.

“You never know what can happen in these events,” said Scott, in a light Australian accent. “Even though it’s not playing tough to finish and the wind’s down, it’s tough to hole out down the stretch of a major. So it will be fun the next couple of hours for me to watch. … I’d take anything. I’d love to come back and play 18 holes (Monday) and have another shot at it.”

Don Ruiz, staff writer

RORY HEATS UP, THEN COOLS OFF

Rory McIlroy gave Chambers Bay a glimpse of what got him to No. 1 in the world rankings coming into this U.S. Open.

It simply didn’t last.

McIlroy began the day as an afterthought. Then he birdied the second hole, then the seventh and eighth. Then 10, 12 and 13. He was at 6-under-par for the round and within striking distance of the lead.

A bogey on 15 deflated it. A three-putt for bogey on 17 ended it.

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy finished his final round at 4-under 66 to bring him to even-par 280 for the tournament.

But while Tiger Woods missed the cut and Phil Mickelson dropped to 12-over, McIlroy’s run illustrated why he’s one of golf’s signature icons. So did his following.

Even after his bogey on 15, crowds lined up in rows four-deep along the ropes, with two more rows on a mound behind. A loud “ahhh” bellowed from the crowd when McIlroy left his approach 24 feet short of the hole and down a slope. He smacked his club against the ground.

McIlroy left his ensuing birdie putt just foot short and wiped his hand down his face in disbelief.

Then the three-putt on 17. He putted from 42 feet to within six for a par putt.

Then McIlroy missed that.

“He’s done. Done,” one fan yelled.

“Good day, though,” another shouted.

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

HORSCHEL RIPS CHAMBERS BAY GREENS, FAN EXPERIENCE

Billy Horschel loves the views provided by Chambers Bay’s proximity to the Puget Sound.

He loves those views almost as much as he hates the conditions of the greens.

The 28-year-old American made that clear – very clear – during a post-round press conference on Sunday that amounted to a 13-minute tirade criticizing the greens, the USGA and the difficulty faced by spectators trying to navigate the course.

Horschel’s first answer to a question about the course spanned nearly three minutes. And this was after he shot a 3-under 67 to finish the tournament at 4-over par.

“I was here six weeks ago, and I think this is one of the most spectacular settings that I’ve ever seen at a golf course. I thought Pebble Beach had unbelievable views. I thought Royal County Down over in Northern Ireland had unbelievable views. They were my top two scenery golf courses to play. And this one by far beats it. Tee to green, it’s fair. It is. Some of the greens could be a little softened – seven and obviously four, maybe do a little bit different things.

“But it’s just been a disappointing week with the way the greens are. When you’ve got a bunker in the middle of the No. 4 green that shouldn’t be there, that’s disappointing. It’s just – I’ve had this debate on Twitter the last couple days with people. It sounds like the players are whining and we’re complaining about this. ‘Oh, you’re playing for millions of dollars, you’re playing for the U.S. Open championship.’ Like I said, we’re not looking for perfect greens. We’re not looking for Memorial’s greens, or even last week at TPC Southwind in Memphis at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. But we’re looking for something that’s very consistent, (where) every green’s very consistent.

“And this week they’re not, and the only greens out here that are really good are 13 and 7, and No. 10’s not too bad. But other than that, it’s just a very disappointing week to be here. I feel like the greens, when you come to a championship tournament, I think obviously you’re going to find out who the best player is, but when you neglect one of the skills or take away one of the skills of a player, that being putting, and if you’re a really good putter – a great putter – and they take that away from you, that’s the skill that you have above everybody else.

“And I understand Jordan (Spieth)’s up on the leaderboard and he’s making plenty of putts. But I’m a really good putter as well, and I have not had a great week on the greens, and it’s not due to the fact that my stroke’s off, or my speed’s off. I’ve hit a lot of really good putts that have bounced all over the world. So it’s just frustrating. I played awesome golf today. I played out my tail, out my ass to shoot 3-under par, and I really felt like I should have shot 6, 7 or 8-under but I wasn’t able to due to the fact that some of the putts I hit just hit some really bad spots on the greens and got off-line and didn’t go in.”

Horschel also felt spectators were short-changed.

“Here we are in the Pacific Northwest, where we haven’t been since the late ’90s for the PGA Championship, and the viewing is awful,” he said. “They tell the fans early in the week, ‘well, just sit in the stands and hopefully – and watch golf.’ I have my family here. I’m sure there are some fans that want to watch me, just like there’s fans that want to watch all these other great players here.

“And when you’re not able to get up close and watch championship caliber players play a golf course, it’s disappointing. And I feel like the fans got robbed this week being able to get up close to the players and see the shots we hit and see the course to the degree that we see it.”

Christian Caple, staff writer

CAMPBELL ‘ECSTATIC’ WITH 68

After what Brian Campbell said was a rough Saturday, he said he might just come out Sunday and shock the world.

Sure, his 2-under 68 he finished with Sunday didn’t exactly put the world on standby, but Campbell put himself in contention to be the best-finishing amateur in the U.S. Open

“I’m ecstatic,” Campbell said. “It’s been a great week. The crowds have been great. It’s really fun to be playing well and have everyone kind of chanting your name. It’s kind of a new experience for me.”

Even playing partner Thomas Aiken was impressed with the 22-year-old University of Illinois golfer.

“Hats off to the amateur,” Aiken said. “I hope he wins the low amateur.”

Ollie Schniederjans was one stroke back of Campbell’s 5-over 285 for the tournament when he started his final round. Denny McCarthy was two strokes back. They were among six amateurs to make the cut – the most in a U.S. Open since 1996.

“I do know all the other amateurs pretty well through college golf and playing amateur tournaments,” Campbell said. “So it’s always nice to go to tournaments and see guys you recognize and say, ‘What’s up? And how are you dong?’”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

AIKEN ENJOYED WEEK IN NORTHWEST

Thomas Aiken enjoyed his stay in the South Puget Sound so much, he wants to come back.

“Overall, I think the people of Washington and Seattle and Tacoma have been fantastic in supporting the event,” said Aiken of South Africa. “It’s been a tough walk for them. It’s a beautiful part of the United States. We’d love to come back and play another golf tournament in this area because the crowds have been fantastic and the people make the golf tournaments.”

Aiken shot a 4-under 66 Sunday to finish at 4-over for the tournament and nearly eagled 18 when his 32-yard putt rolled just left of the cup. He shot a 3-over 73 Saturday.

Aiken was one of nine South African players in the tournament and all except Retief Goosen, Garth Mulroy and Tjaart van der Walt made the cut into the final two days. Branden Grace entered Sunday tied with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day for the lead at 4-under.

“South African golf has been in a great spot for the last few decades,” Aiken said. “I wish (Grace) all the best. He’s been in many situations and won many times before and hopefully he can get it done today. If he doesn’t, there’s some really nice guys that have got a good shot. I mean Jordan Spieth, who I know very well, has been playing phenomenal golf over the last how many months. And he’s got a great opportunity to win his second major. And then there’s Jason Day, you can’t get much of a nicer guy. And I think he’s been through quite a bit this week and I’m sure he’s the crowd favorite to try and pull through, even though he’s not American.

“But I think golf is in a great spot in general. We’ve got some really young kids that are at the top of the game in the world and not only are they great golfers, but they’re just genuinely nice guys, as well, and that makes a huge difference.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

PHIL HAD FUN, WISHES HE PLAYED BETTER

Phil Mickelson quest to complete golf’s career grand slam continues.

The 45-year-old shot a 3-over-par 73 Sunday and left Chambers Bay at 13-over-par for the tournament. Mickleson, who has won the Masters, British Open and PGA Championship, has finished second six times at the U.S. Open.

He issued a statement Sunday afternoon:

“I enjoyed coming to Washington to play a Major Championship event. The people here appreciate the PGA Tour players and the U.S. Open and have really supported it. It was fun to play here. The community helped run a really first-class event, and I wish I had played better.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

HOFFMAN: NO. 12 GREEN ‘REALLY BAD’

Morgan Hoffman was one of the 11 players in the tournament who also played at Chambers Bay in the 2010 U.S. Amateur.

He said the course was more difficult now than it was then.

“It was just mainly fescue then, now there’s a lot of poa,” Hoffman said. “It’s more difficult now probably just because the condition and how inconsistent (the greens) are. I left putts on the front nine like 15 feet short from 40 feet, then I go to another green, like No. 11. I had a 50 footer and I hit it 20 feet left. And I hit it the same. I’m not changing anything. One is burnt out, one is wet.”

Hoffman had made six birdies total the previous three rounds. He matched that in 18 holes Sunday to shoot a 4-under 66 to finish at 5-over 285.

He said No. 12 was by far the most difficult hole.

“That green is really bad,” Hoffman said. “I’d say if you have a 4 footer to win and No. 12 was the 18th green, it would be unfair because there’s a 50-50 chance of making it.

“You just don’t know whether to hit it soft or hard. It’s just a guessing game.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

HARDY HAPPY WITH FINAL ROUND

Nick Hardy, a 19-year-old from the University of Illinois, didn’t achieve his goal of winning the gold medal for low amateur, but he did save the best for last.

He shot a 2-under-par 68 Sunday morning to finish at 10-over-par for the tournament. It was his first under-par round of the tournament.

“My goal was to be low Am (amateur) and make the cut,” said Hardy who just finished his freshman year at Illinois. “But I go to every tournament trying to win it, so I don’t think I’m going to get low Am, but I did make the cut. I was able to play the weekend. Obviously didn’t putt well enough to be in contention, but … I’m pretty pleased with how this week went.”

He hopes to be a regular at U.S. Opens.

“It’s good to get my first one out of the way,” Hardy said. “I still got plenty of years left in college, going to just try to keep getting better. Hopefully after that, (I’ll) have more tournaments like this.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

PAN RELIEVED, READY TO CASH FIRST CHECK

Cheng-Tsung Pan felt relief. Four grueling rounds at Chambers Bay had finally finished.

And also because he finally made his first check.

“I might go out and have a good dinner and spend time with my family and girlfriend,” said the University of Washington graduate who was playing in his first tournament as a professional. He placed second in the NCAA Division I championships just last month.

Pan was tied for 65th at 13-over when he finished Sunday. His former UW men’s golf coach, Matt Thurmond, was his caddie this week.

“I hope Pan and I have a long friendship,” Thurmond said. “He is going to go on to do great things and he knows he’s always got a friend in me. It was just fun to share his pro debut.”

Pan was the only player entering Sunday who had not had a three-putt. He made the contentious Chambers Bay greens look easy until finally three-putting on the 13th hole Sunday. It was his only three-putt of the tournament.

He’s got his PGA Tour Canada card so he said plans to keep busy in Canada the next two months.

“I’m glad to be done, it was kind of torturing out there,” Pan said. “It’s finally done. I’m making my first check, that’s very big for me and it’s really awesome to hear all the local fans supporting me and cheering me and my coach. … It’s just been a great week for me.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

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