Grading the 2015 U.S. Open

matthew-cohen
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The 2015 U.S. Open was everything this year’s Masters Tournament wasn’t – dramatic, exciting, tense. Yet ironically, if that’s the word, both championships were won by the same guy – 21-year-old Jordan Spieth.

As the golfing world will undoubtedly begin to dream about a Grand Slam (the British Open at St. Andrews begins July 16th), let’s pause first and recap this year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Instead of just the usual analysis though, we’re giving out grades. You know, like A’s, B’s, C’s, even F’s. And despite the brutal course conditions, no, we are not going to be grading on a curve.

2015 U.S. Open Grades

 

Jordan Spieth: A 68-67-71-69 (-5)

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Might as well start with the winner. Jordan Spieth was everything we’ve come to expect from the two time major champion – calm, cool, collected and poised well beyond his years. The Houston native played three of his four rounds under par – Louis Oosthuizen was the only player to do the same. Spieth was always in or close to the lead throughout the week at Chambers Bay. He trailed by three strokes after day one, and was co-leader after day two, putting himself right where he wanted to heading into the weekend. Spieth would’ve gotten an A+ here if not for his Sunday double-bogey on 17 that cost him the outright lead momentarily. But regardless, Spieth is your U.S. Open champion, and we can’t wait for St. Andrews.


 

Louis Oosthuizen: A- 77-66-66-67 (-4)

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What a wild week for Louis Oosthuizen. Grouped with Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler the first two days, the South African looked like he wouldn’t even make it to the weekend after an opening round 77. But on Friday, the 2012 Masters champion fired a 66, and at +3, he made the cut. A second consecutive 66 on Saturday put Oosthuizen at 1-under-par, three shots behind the leaders entering final round action. On the front nine Sunday, it looked as though Oosthuizen had run out of gas. Three bogeys on the opening four holes put him at 2-over-par for the championship. Then the lightbulb came on. Starting on hole 12, Oosthuizen made five straight birdies. Then he birdied 18 to get to 4-under par. He carded a 29 on the back nine. All in all, a tremendous showing for the 32-year-old. If not for that opening 77, oh what might have been?
 

Dustin Johnson: C 65-71-70-70 (-4)

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Depending on how the rest of the year shakes out, this U.S. Open will be remembered for who lost just as much as it will be for who won. No one would’ve gotten on Dustin Johnson too bad had he missed the eagle put on 18 and tapped in for birdie, which would’ve forced a Monday playoff with Spieth. And if he had lost on Monday, then oh well. But to three put from just outside 12 feet, and rob golf fans of what would have been as dramatic a playoff as we’ve seen in recent memory is just plain awful. Credit to DJ for saying all the right things after his round, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out how consistent he played all week, but there’s just a pit in our stomach we can’t get rid of.


 

Rory McIlroy: B 72-72-70-66 (E)

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It was a pretty uneventful first three days for Rory McIlroy. After 54 holes, the world No. 1 was 4-over-par, and really not on anyone’s radar as far as making any noise on Sunday. But Rory did just that. After 13 holes, McIlroy was 6-under on his round, and 2-under for the championship. He was just two shots off the lead. With no margin for error however, McIlroy gave two shots back with bogeys on 15 and 17. He finished the tournament at even par. McIlroy will next look to defend his Open Championship at St. Andrews.


 

Branden Grace: B+ 69-67-70-71 (-3)

For a moment on Sunday, it looked like we were headed for a Monday playoff between Branden Grace and Spieth. Both were at 5-under-par heading to the 16th tee box – two shots clear of the field. But then Grace, the South African who’s never won a PGA Tour event, inexcusably hit his tee shot out of bounds. Grace made double bogey and finished at -3. Looking at all four rounds however, it’s hard to knock Grace. The 27-year-old and world No. 27 (nice coincidence) played terrific golf all week. Here’s hoping we see a lot more of him in the future.
 

Jason Day: A- 68-70-68-74 (E)

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No one would have knocked Jason Day if he had withdrawn after Friday. The 27-year-old Aussie collapsed on the final hole for what was later revealed to be vertigo, a serious condition. Instead of calling it quits, Day gutted it out all weekend, and with all that was going on, his 68 on Saturday was remarkable. On Sunday, it looked like the Aussie had nothing left in the tank, and his round of 74 dropped him to even par on the championship.

“I was taken by the fact that so many people supported me,” Day said. “I really made a lot of Jason Day fans out there this week, even though it didn’t end up the way I wanted it to end up.”

One of these days, Day is going to win his first major. We hope it happens soon.


 

Rickie Fowler: F 81-73 (CUT)

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The opening round 81 was not a good look for Rickie Fowler. After winning the PLAYERS Championship, many pegged Rickie as one of the favorites at Chambers Bay. Looking for his first major, Rickie laid an absolute egg. The 26-year-old did put up a respectable round of 73 on Friday, but at 14-over-par he was nowhere near the cut. He was relatively accurate off the tee, hitting 22 out of 28 fairways, but his wedge play was awful, as he hit only 20 of 36 greens in regulation.
 

Tiger Woods: D 80-76 (CUT)

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There’s not much to dissect here – just another awful performance from someone who used to be the most dominate athlete on the planet. At +16, Tiger didn’t make the cut. In fact, he was a lot closer to last place than first. We’re not going to spend much time psychoanalyzing Tiger’s most recent struggles. The only reason he gets a D, and someone like Fowler gets an F is simple – expectations. We expected Fowler to be in contention, we weren’t really expecting anything from Woods.


 

Phil Mickelson: C+ 69-74-77-73 (+13)

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Poor Phil. Another U.S. Open in the books, and the six time runner-up still doesn’t have that U.S. Open victory on his resume. It started out well enough. An opening round 69 gave Lefty fans hope he’d be in contention. But nine bogeys on Saturday quickly put those hopes to bed.

“I enjoyed coming to Washington to play a major championship event,” Mickelson said in a statement released through his agent. “The people here appreciate the PGA Tour players and the U.S. Open and have really supported it. It was fun to play here. The community helped run a really first-class event, and I wish I had played better.”
 

FOX Sports: C

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For the first time ever, FOX Sports led coverage of a major championship. Despite taking a beating on social media, the coverage wasn’t that terrible. Was it as good as CBS or NBC? No, not even close. But keep in mind, this was FOX’s first go at this sort of thing. There were going to be growing pains. And this was on a course that’s never had a major before.

The TV ratings surely didn’t suffer. First round viewership alone was the highest of a U.S. Open in 12 years.

The TV angles weren’t great. The announcers at times wouldn’t shut up. They played Eminem. Hopefully FOX learns its lessons and does better next time.