Will it be luck or skill to determine the US Open winner in the final round?
Sorry, I’m not buying into Chambers Bay as a golf course suitable for a U.S. Open. We will have a champion crowned today and he probably will have rightfully earned the title, but the golf course is so goofy and full of unexpected bounces that the winner will have to have a good degree of luck on his side to emerge the winner. We have four quality players in a tie for the lead with eighteen holes to play, with each having their share of misfortune and good and bad breaks. I saw too many shots appear to be hit correctly and miss a ridge by one foot and then finish off the green in near impossible positions, while other shots went way by the hole only to catch a slope and come back on the green in birdie range. Makes for interesting watching, but it takes the skill out of the game. It reminds me of a carnival arcade game where you drop a ball at the top of a cylinder and it hits pegs on the way down as it bounces erratically as you hope it ends up in the winning slot at the bottom. For all the beauty and scenic vistas that Chambers Bay possesses, it just isn’t a quality golf course. Gary Player had this to say about Chambers Bay. He said that this course is “one of the worst golf courses I’ve ever seen.” Ouch! I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I will say that it is the worst golf course that a U.S. Open has been played on in the modern era.
Even with the odd golf course, we have four quality players in the lead at the start of the final round. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Brandon Grace have weathered the storm and one of them will probably be the 2015 U.S. Open champion. It is very possible a player at one under or even par has a chance, but that would require an exceptional round of 4 or 5 under par the last day. If a player from the back wins, it would require him getting all the right bounces and good breaks. As difficult it is to figure out where to land your ball on approaches, it is equally difficult to consistently make putts. The greens are the same fescue as the fairways with some poa annua mixed in. They are cut shorter and rolled to give as good a putting surface as possible. However, they bumpy and irregular and makes short putting a guessing game. Henrik Stenson claimed putting on these greens is “pretty much like putting on broccoli”. Rory McIlroy was told of that quote and remarked that broccoli is green and these “greens” are brown, so it’s more like putting on cauliflower. He then added that he was kidding, but I’m sure he really wasn’t.
This last round will be the ultimate test of patience and strong willpower. Poor Jason Day, who has been battling vertigo, will be supremely challenged. He made it through yesterday’s third round and was totally exhausted at the end. I would love for him to win, but I just don’t see him having the strength to overcome his troubles two days in a row. Brandon Grace is an accomplished European Tour player with multiple wins on his home tour, but this is a different stage. I see him holding in for a while, but falling back on the last nine holes.
Would have loved to have had Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth play in the same twosome at the end of the field. I believe the winner will be one of these players. Jordan will play with Brandon Grace, just ahead of Dustin and Jason Day. I see this as a slight advantage for Spieth, because I do not know what kind of round to expect from Justin Day. However, I am favoring Dustin to win his first major. He seems very relaxed and confident and his length is a big advantage for him over Jordan. Putting is a guessing game, so that negates Jordan’s advantage in that area. No matter the outcome the final round will be very interesting. I hope the USGA will set the course up so that the winner will be determined on skill rather than luck.