Friday, July 17, 2015

U.S. Open -- Day Four Wrap-Up

Yes, I realize that the U.S. Open concluded several weeks ago.  But it makes sense to wrap up our coverage now, because what happened at the U.S. Open will have a major impact on how people view the ongoing British Open.

The big story of the 2015 U.S. Open -- far beyond the ridiculous Chambers Bay course or the latest disaster to befall Dustin Johnson in a major -- is that Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old wunderkind from Texas, has now won the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year.  This is a very big deal.  In 1953, Ben Hogan won the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open.  To this day, he remains the only person to turn that trick.  Only three other golfers have won the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year:  Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972, and Tiger Woods in 2002.  These are probably the three greatest golfers since Hogan, and each of them were at the absolute peak of their powers when they pulled off this double.  No one else -- not Tom Watson, or Gary Player, or Nick Faldo, or any of the other great golfers of the last 60 years -- has accomplished this feat.  Until Spieth.

In other words, whatever Spieth does for the rest of this year -- or the rest of his life, for that matter -- he has already made golf history.  Palmer, Nicklaus, and Woods were never able to repeat their trick of winning the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year, and the odds are certainly against Spieth as well.  But then again, the odds were against him this year.

For much of the last few years, we've complained about the lack of dominant golfers in the post-Tiger era.  But the last four majors have now been won by two young superstars:  Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.  This is very exciting news for golf fans, and augurs well for the future of this great old game.

One final point about Mark Davis and his impact on the U.S. Open.  Here is the list of National Open titlists since 2010, when Davis's views really began to affect play:

2010:  Graeme McDowell (NIR)
2011:  Rory McIlroy (NIR)
2012:  Webb Simpson
2013:  Justin Rose (ENG)
2014:  Martin Kaymer (GER)
2015:  Jordan Spieth

That is a very good list of champions -- only Webb Simpson looks like the sort of odd winner that the U.S. Open used to throw up all the time.  For all the criticism of Davis -- some of which I share -- he should be given some credit for this power-packed list of winners.

Here's the final top ten at the 2015 U.S. Open:

1.  J. Spieth:  -5 (68+67+71+69=275)

T2.  D. Johnson:  -4 (65+71+70+70=276)
T2.  L. Oosthuizen (RSA):  -4 (77+66+66+67=276)

T4.  B. Grace (RSA):  -3 (69+67+70+71=277)
T4.  A. Scott (AUS):  -3 (70+71+72+64=277)
T4.  C. Smith (AUS):  -3 (70+70+69+68=277)

7.  C. Schwartzel (RSA):  -2 (73+70+69+66=278)

8.  B. Snedeker:  -1 (69+72+70+68=279)

T9.  J. Day (AUS):  Even (68+70+68+74=280)
T9.  S. Lowry (IRL):  Even (69+70+70+71=280)
T9.  R. McIlroy (NIR):  Even (72+72+70+66=280)

Here is the list of major golf champions since June 2010 -- when the HP was launched:

Rory McIlroy (NIR):  4
Jordan Spieth:  2
Martin Kaymer (GER):  2
Bubba Watson:  2
Jason Dufner
Phil Mickelson
Justin Rose (ENG)
Adam Scott (AUS)
Ernie Els (RSA)
Webb Simpson
Keegan Bradley
Darren Clarke (NIR)
Charl Schwartzel (RSA)
Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)

Spieth's two victories have moved the United States to the top of the table:

United States:  8
United Kingdom:  6
South Africa:  3
Germany:  2
Australia:  1

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