There won’t be any rush to get back to the tough greens of Cham­bers Bay

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - BILL DWYRE

UNIVER­SITY PLACE, Wash. — They won’t need to bring a U. S. Open back to Cham­bers Bay. Af­ter all the shots had been counted and the drama doc­u­mented here Sun­day, a life­time of mem­o­ries had been left be­hind for golf and sports fans in Western Washington.

Puget Sound had made its noise.

It is hard to cap­ture it all with­out some “wows” and “holy cows.” Also with­out some con­fir­ma­tion that, yes, all those things that seemed to hap­pen on your TV screens ac­tu­ally did.

Young Jor­dan Spi­eth won again. It was his sec­ond straight ma­jor.

He is a rock of guts and poise

and charm and boy­ish magic.

He made a dou­ble bo­gey on the sec­ond- to- last hole of a tour­na­ment that he had in his back pocket by just play­ing it close to the vest. Other 21- year- olds dis­in­te­grate there. They are sup­posed to. It is writ­ten in the life man­ual of be­ing 21.

Not this kid. He sticks a sec­ond shot close enough on No. 18 to have a run at ea­gle, but is care­ful enough to make sure he gets his birdie, which he does, so he can put the heat on Dustin John­son.

John­son turns 31 on Mon­day. He is the grizzled vet­eran. He hits shots that mere mor­tals can only dream of. He also has a history of not get­ting it done in the big mo­ments. Once again, he didn’t. Play­ing in the fi­nal group be­hind Spi­eth, John­son teased the golf world with his usual ge­nius, hit­ting a glo­ri­ous sec­ond shot 200 yards on No. 18 to 12 feet. Then, with a chance to get the can’t- fin­ish mon­key off his back, he three- putted and lost by one.

Don’t ex­pect to see that a lot in the 72nd hole of a Grand Slam tour­na­ment. Nor to see some­body make a birdie on that hole to win. What Spi­eth did with his birdie to win a U. S. Open was last done in 1926 by Bobby Jones.

When Spi­eth heard that statis­tic, he said he was stunned.

You feel for John­son, who you should be cel­e­brat­ing. You celebrate Spi­eth, who you should be feel­ing for.

“I feel very much for Dustin,” Spi­eth said af­ter­ward. “This was just an odd deal. He de­serves to be hold­ing this tro­phy as much as I do, for the way he played this week.”

Golf is an evil game, ex­cept when you are 21, you are Jor­dan Spi­eth, and you are about to spend the next month an­swer­ing ques­tions about your prospects of win­ning all four ma­jors in a cal­en­dar year, the ul­ti­mate Grand Slam.

Some­where, Tiger Woods is grind­ing his teeth.

Fox Sports, by virtue of its fat check­book, got first shot at the Grand Slam ques­tion af­ter the awards cer­e­mony. And Spi­eth han­dled it as he han­dles ev­ery­thing else — like a 15- year vet­eran of these golf wars.

“The sole fo­cus is to go to the birthplace of golf [ Bri­tish Open site St. An­drews],” Spi­eth said. “But you can’t win all of them un­til you win the first two.”

If you haven’t now seen the fu­ture of golf, you need to get your glasses cleaned.

Be­sides con­firm­ing that golf has a new sa­vant, Cham­bers Bay also brought us the Jason Day saga. He wasn’t car­ry­ing am­mu­ni­tion through bat­tle lines or fight­ing can­cer, but his dose of ver­tigo and his abil­ity to carry on and be com­pet­i­tive set the fu­ture bar high in the cat­e­gory of sports courage.

He started the day as one of four play­ers tied for the lead — with Branden Grace, Spi­eth and John­son — and shot 74. That got him into a top- 10 fin­ish at a time when his best move would have been to stay in bed.

The day also gave us lit­tle Louie Oosthuizen from South Africa, who ran off six birdies on the back nine to come out of nowhere and chal­lenge. Be­fore Sun­day at Cham­bers Bay, his ca­reer had been no­table for run­ning away from the field the last time the Bri­tish Open had been played at St. An­drews ( 2010), where it will be played next month.

Also, in the 2012 Mas­ters, Oosthuizen made a dou­ble ea­gle on the sec­ond hole on the fi­nal Sun­day, but ended up los­ing the tour­na­ment to Bubba Wat­son.

Mostly, Cham­bers Bay gave us con­tro­versy, much of which may drift away with the mem­ory of the 18th hole drama on Sun­day, the con­tin­ued rise of Spi­eth and the hu­man drama of Jason Day.

The USGA took a chance on Cham­bers Bay. It gave the best golfers in the world a hard, fast track with bumpy greens that many of the play­ers called un- put­table.

Billy Horschel went on TV, ripped the greens and said he had lost some re­spect for the USGA. Rory McIl­roy, the world’s No. 1 player, who made a run Sun­day but fell back, said when asked about com­ing back here to play, that he would be happy to, if the next Cham­bers Bay tour­na­ment was 20 years down the line.

In the end, Cham­bers Bay was best cap­sulized by the daily groans of thou­sands of spec­ta­tors, loom­ing high above in the mas­sive bleach­ers that housed most of the fans be­cause the to­pog­ra­phy of the course was too dan­ger­ous to let them wan­der freely. The grand­stand groans came as golfer af­ter golfer hit good shots to the brown and yel­low greens and watched the ball roll and roll and roll some more, be­fore plop­ping into a trap or ugly, gnarly rough.

That’s why it was fit­ting that this all ended on an 18th green that is huge — think two sub­ur­ban back­yards — and rolls like the surf at Hunt­ing­ton Beach. Golfers like to char­ac­ter­ize these kinds of greens as hav­ing ele­phants buried be­neath.

So when John­son’s fi­nal putt slipped past the hole, it came to rest near a lump about the size of a buried tusk.

It was Cham­bers Bay’s fi­nal good­bye.

Ross Kin­naird Getty I mages

A BIRDIE at No. 16 gave Jor­dan Spi­eth a three- shot lead, and he cel­e­brated as though the tour­na­ment was all but over. It wasn’t. He dou­ble- bo­geyed 17, birdied 18 and then watched Dustin John­son miss putts on the f inal hole that could have won it or forced a play­off.

An­drew Red­ing­ton Getty I mages

I T WAS another ag­o­niz­ing f in­ish at a ma­jor for Dustin John­son, who missed this short birdie try af­ter miss­ing 12- footer for ea­gle.

An­drew Red­ing­ton Getty I mages

HEN­RIK STEN­SON lines up a putt on the 18th green with his cad­die, Gareth Lord, dur­ing the f inal round of the U. S. Open at Cham­bers Bay.


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