The wait for the second major championship of the year is always a lengthy one after the Masters, but now that the U.S. Open is complete, the journey to the Open Championship will go by in a flash.
Perhaps that is why it has been so difficult to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year. Jordan Spieth became just the sixth player to do it (for a total of seven times). One reason it is so rare is there is typically little carryover. Ten weeks pass between the events, and a lot has transpired. Spieth played six tournaments during that span. He missed the cut at the Players Championship, but contended at Colonial and the Memorial. There is no guarantee, however, that the good form will carry through.
But now it's just three weeks until the Open Championship at St. Andrews. Spieth is scheduled to play the John Deere Classic -- where he won in 2013 -- the week prior. He has a bit of time to decompress, but not a lot. Then, just a few weeks later, is the PGA Championship.
Last year Rory McIlroy rode a hot streak to two major titles and a WGC victory. It's a good time to stay on top of your game.
Spieth was heard on TV remarking that the 18th hole at Chambers Bay was "dumb'' and he was particularly perplexed that it was being played as a par-4. That was on Friday, with the hole playing as either a par-5 or a par-4, depending on the whims of the USGA -- which would in turn go the opposite way on the parallel first hole.
"Ideally, we wanted to play two days of par-4, two days of par-5, and then obviously we'd have to play the first hole as the opposite,'' USGA executive director Mike Davis said. "And we did that because those holes, contrary to what some people are trying to write ... the architect designed both to be par-4s and par-5s. They absolutely did. So we had it set up where 18 would be a par-4 on Sunday.''
But it wasn't, leading to all manner of conspiracy theories that the USGA changed its mind because of Spieth. Well, not quite. Spieth wasn't the only one who believed the hole was a bad idea as a par-4, but Davis said the decision was made more due to the wind direction forecast and wanting to present the possibility of a birdie -- or eagle -- winning the tournament.
When asked by ESPN.com about Spieth's comments, Davis said: "It's just so unfair to anybody ... that would presuppose that we are trying to get a certain player to win. It really questions the integrity of the whole event, something like that. Nobody has ever won a U.S. Open with a birdie (not since Bobby Jones in 1926 had a player birdied the 72nd hole to win by 1). And we almost had somebody make eagle to win.''
Where does Dustin Johnson's putting gaffe rate among final-hole major championship blunders? It would be difficult to compare it to Jean Van de Velde at the 1999 Open Championship. Johnson played the final hole at Chambers Bay beautifully, only to take three putts from what turned out to be a treacherous, speedy spot on the green. Van de Velde made a triple-bogey 7, when a 6 would have won.
Doug Sanders might be a good example. He had a 3-footer that would have won the 1970 Open Championship at St. Andrews on the 18th green. He missed, then lost the next day to Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff. At least he still had a chance in the playoff.
Ed Sneed also went to a playoff after missing a par putt on the final hole at the 1979 Masters. But Sneed had a 3-stroke lead with three holes to play, and bogeyed each of the final holes to fall into the playoff with Fuzzy Zoeller and Tom Watson. Zoeller won the Masters' first sudden-death playoff to win on the second playoff hole.
Johnson's mistake was also quickly compared to that of Scott Hoch, who missed a 2-foot par putt on the first playoff hole at the 1989 Masters that would have defeated Nick Faldo -- who went on to birdie the next hole to win the green jacket.
Maybe there is something to that Adam Scott-Steve Williams pairing after all. When Scott announced he was bringing Williams out of retirement for a handful of tournaments this summer as his caddie, it didn't figure to matter much unless Williams himself could do the putting.
Scott has struggled for most of the year, but there he was on the leaderboard Sunday, tied for fourth after shooting a bogey-free final-round 64 at Chambers Bay.
"I have so much belief in Adam,'' said Williams, who caddied for the Australian when he won the 2013 Masters and was on the bag for 13 of Tiger Woods' 14 major victories. "I like to test him, if you like, try to make him play good. We have so much trust. That's the bottom line.''
Williams said he saw some issues in Scott's game when he returned last week. "It wasn't where it needed to be,'' he said.
But by the end of the week, Scott was contending, and that would seem to bode well for the rest of the summer.
The greens at Chambers Bay understandably came under fire from the players, but if there was any hint that the golf course was unfair ... well, the numbers just don't back it up.
The 25 sub-par scores on the first day were the most in the U.S. Open since 1992. There were eight players who finished under par for the tournament. Louis Oosthuizen tied a U.S. Open record by shooting 29 over nine holes during his final round. And the final-round scoring average of 71.29 was the lowest for any round in 115 years of the tournament.
Spieth, 21, became the second player since 1940 to win four times on the PGA Tour before the age of 22, joining Tiger Woods. He was the youngest to win the U.S. Open since Bobby Jones in 1923. For the week, Spieth hit 35 fairways to tie for 68th, hit 55 greens to tie for fifth, had 126 putts to tie for 15th and had 18 birdies -- which tied for first.
"The U.S. Open is conquering the hardest layout in all of golf, and the fact that we did it like this is amazing. I didn't have my best stuff ballstriking at all and we really grinded over the 4- and 5-footers. That was the difference.'' -- Spieth on his U.S. Open victory.
Around the Course
Spieth has finished tied for 26th and tied for 44th in his two Open Championship appearances and has played just a single friendly round -- when he was an amateur -- at the Old Course, site of next month's Open Championship at St. Andrews.
Oosthuizen's total of 199 in his final 54 holes was the lowest in U.S. Open history.
Australia's Cameron Smith was the only player to go all four rounds at par or better: 70-70-69-68. His tie for fourth also means Smith can accept special temporary membership for the rest of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season.
TPC River Highlands is the second-shortest course on the PGA Tour at 6,841 yards. Only Pebble Beach, at 6,816, is shorter.