Home favorite Stricker, Spieth finish strong
ERIN, Wis. — Some of the loudest cheers at the U.S. Open were reserved for a guy who didn’t really challenged the leaders.
Wisconsin golf fans love home-state favorite Steve Stricker.
He had a pretty good final round, too, shooting a 3-under-par 69 to finish at 5-under for the tournament. His best finish in 20 U.S. Open appearances came in the first Open to be held in Wisconsin.
There was one last ovation as he walked off the 18th green after putting for par.
“It was really cool. Yeah, I don’t get those very often,” Stricker said. “And to play well today on top of it was extra special.”
Stricker was rolling down the back end of the back nine, with three birdies between the 14th and 17th holes. He came up short at the par-415th, when a 23-foot putt stopped right on the edge of the cup. Stricker tapped in for par.
“Yeah, that would have been nice to get. But I can’t complain the way I finished it,” Stricker said.
After turning 50 this year, Stricker gets to play in the PGA Tour Champions event that he will host in Madison next weekend, the American Family Insurance Championship.
He’s not sure if his wife, Nicki, will repeat as his caddie next week, though.
“She’s hurting, I don’t know if she’ll be able to caddie next week,” he said. “But she did well. We had a lot of fun together again.”
Sister helps Spieth:
Beginning the day 16 strokes off the lead, Jordan Spieth was able to finish his U.S. Open on a high note, and he has little sister Ellie to thank.
The fifth-ranked player in the world hit a 4foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th for a 69 to end his weekend at Erin Hills at 1-over. It was his first round under 70 in the tournament.
Spieth says he asked Ellie, 16, on Saturday night what she wanted him to do in the final round. She thought for a second and replied, “16 birdies.”
Spieth used that as motivation and opened with a birdie on No. 1 and said to his caddie, “Fifteen more.” And then he made birdie on the next hole. Two down, 14 to go.
Three pars later, it was all over. The closing birdie on 18 was his fourth of the round.
Still, Spieth had a big grin on his face recounting the story. Smiles are rare at a U.S. Open when a player finishes before the leaders tee off.
When asked to rate his confidence level, Spieth assigned himself a “B,” though he graded himself at an “A” with his putter .
“I feel really good about just about everything else,” Spieth said. “I’ve just got to get on the greens and have that cup start to look a bit bigger.”
Scottie Scheffler was the low amateur for the U.S. Open. Scheffler, 20, finished at 1-under 287. He also played in the U.S. Open last year at Oakmont and missed the cut.
His sister, Callie, served as his caddie at Erin Hills.
“Being an amateur in the U.S. Open is very cool,” Scheffler said.
Cameron Champ was the lowest amateur heading into the final round, but he finished with a 4-over 76 to drop back to even par for the tournament.
Scheffler birdied No. 18 for a 73 in the final round.
Scheffler and Champ know each other well; they played together during a couple of youth tournaments. Scheffler plays for the University of Texas, Champ at Texas A&M.
Hail the King:
The 18th hole at Erin Hills had a special flag for the final round of the U.S. Open.
The flag commemorated the late Arnold Palmer’s win at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. It featured a silhouette of Palmer in mid-stride, tossing his visor in the air. Palmer shot a 65 after going into the final round trailing by seven shots.
Wisconsin native Steve Stricker putts on the ninth hole during the final round of the U.S. Open before a loyal group of fans at Erin Hills.