116th U.S. Open Championship:
Dustin Johnson erased a four-stroke deficit and endured a pending rules contoversy with a 1-under-par 34-35=69 in the final round of the 116th U.S. Open, good for a three-shot victory over Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy, and 54-hole leader Shane Lowry.
Johnson claims his first major championship in his 29th major appearance (ninth U.S. Open), having previously finished T2 two times, most recently at last year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. He also finished T2 at the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.
This was a record 9th playing of the U.S. Open at Oakmont CC with the last coming in 2007 (Johnson made his U.S. Open debut in 2008). The par-70 layout played over-par in all four rounds with a cumulative scoring average of 73.570. Johnson’s winning aggregate of 4-under 276 featured rounds of 67-69-71-69.
The 31-year-old, whose birthday is June 22nd, served notice with a bogey-free 67 in the first round, the ONLY blemish-free round of the week, and was 7.244 strokes better than the field average in R1. Though not the pace-setter, he chased with 69 in R2 and became the 36-hole leader (by one). Johnson backed up with 71 in R3 for a 54-hole total of 3-under 207, down two places into a two-way T2, four back of now-leader Lowry, who shot 65.
Playing out of the penultimate twosome in the finale with Lee Westwood, who shot 80, he landed eight (of 14) fairways, pelted 14 GIR, and totaled 30 putts. The South Carolinian birdied Nos. 2 and 9, and capped with a walk-off birdie-3 after sticking his approach from 191 yards to five feet. His lone bogey came at the par-4 14th, 3-putting from 64 feet.
However, after the round, Johnson was assessed a one-stroke penalty for having been deemed to have caused the ball to move on the fifth green, changing his hole score from par to bogey-5. He was notified of the possible infraction on the 12th tee by the USGA. Johnson brushed that aside to claim his 10th PGA TOUR title in his 193rd career start and extends his TOUR-leading streak to nine consecutive seasons with at least one victory.
This is Johnson’s NINTH top 10 of the season in 14 starts, tying Patrick Reed for the most top 10s on TOUR, and his EIGHTH top 5. He arrived off a fifth-place finish in Memphis – which concluded with the week’s low round of 63 – and a solo third at the Memorial the week prior, which he opened with the week’s low round of 64.
With the win, Johnson earns a five-year exemption on TOUR, a five-year exemption into the Masters, Open Championship, PGA Championship and THE PLAYERS, and a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Open. He also bumps three places to a career-best 3rd in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
The Coastal Carolina University product, a pre-tourney 14/1 outright, collects 600 FedExCup (FEC) points for the victory, moving from 7th in the FEC standings to No.3, and improves to 4-for-7 when the 36-hole leader.
Winner’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 67 players):
Birdies: 11 (T29)
Bogey Avoidance: (1st) at 8.33 percent (five bogeys, one double)
Par-3 Scoring: 2.88 (T4)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.98 (1st); ONLY player under 4.00
Par-5 Scoring: 4.88 (T19)
Driving Distance: 317.1 yards (1st)
Driving Accuracy: 36/56 (T18) at 64.29 percent
Greens in Regulation (GIR): 55/72 (1st) at 76.39 percent; field average: 58.58 percent
Putts per GIR: 1.873 (43rd)
Total Putts: 124 (T49); by round: 32-33-28-31
Scrambling: 13/17 (1st) at 76.47 percent
Unfortunately, there is no Strokes Gained data collected in the four majors.
Golf Channel Perfect Picks ($3,442,774):
Group 1: Dustin Johnson (Won): $1,800,000
Group 2: Jim Furyk (T2): $745,270
The championship was snake-bitten from the outset. Three separate weather suspensions on Thursday led to just NINE of 156 players completing their first rounds and the entire PM wave not hitting a single shot until Friday.
By the time darkness suspended play on Friday, just 51 of 156 had completed two rounds.
Saturday brought more disjointedness, with those stranded Friday restarting at 7:15 a.m. ET, while the other 78 kicked off at 7:00 a.m.
The 36-hole cut finally came Saturday afternoon with 66 pros and 1 amateur making the cut. Round 3 didn’t get underway until 3:00 p.m. with threesomes off split tees. By suspension of play Saturday night, 27 (of 67) were stranded.
Round 3 restarted at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday and ended at 8:25 a.m. The final round began at 10:00 a.m. with twosomes off a single tee and the tournament was finally back on schedule.
With the exception of the finale, EACH of the first three rounds did not start OR end on the same day. With each being contested over a two-day period, and some playing as many as 36 holes on either Friday or Saturday, to say which side of the draw got a better deal is mere speculation.
With that, let’s look at what the numbers say.
In total, 66 pros and 1 amateur (Jon Rahm) from a field of 145 pros and 11 amateurs made the cut on 6-over 146, with 36 (of 78) EARLY/late advancing, versus 31 (of 76) LATE/early (one WD, one DQ).
Of the six top-finishers in Golf Channel, three emerged from either side, though the champion and two of the three runners-up came from the LATE/early ranks.
Dustin Johnson (Won): LATE/early
Jim Furyk (T2): LATE/early
Scott Piercy (T2): LATE/early
Shane Lowry (T2): EARLY/late
Bryson DeChambeau (T15): EARLY/late
Andrew Landry (T15): EARLY/late
Golf Channel aside, if you look at the top-7 finishers overall, SIX were LATE/early, with Lowry the only one to buck the trend.
Dustin Johnson (Won): LATE/early
Jim Furyk (T2): LATE/early
Scott Piercy (T2): LATE/early
Shane Lowry (T2): EARLY/late
Sergio Garcia (T5): LATE/early
Branden Grace (T5): LATE/early
Kevin Na (7th): LATE/early
Yahoo! Low Rounds:
R1: Andrew Landry (66)
R3: Shane Lowry (65)
R4: Jim Furyk (66)
R1: Dustin Johnson (67)
The Runners-up (x3):
Jim Furyk: The Pennsylvania native and 2003 U.S. Open champ crafted the low round of the day on Sunday with a 4-under-par 32-34=66, leapfrogging 19 spots on the leaderboard into a three-way T2, three back of the champion.
Furyk began the final round trailing 54-hole leader Lowry by 10 shots after opening in 71-68-74. He kicked off at 1:30 p.m. ET, two hours prior to the final pairing of Lowry and first-round leader and TOUR rookie Andrew Landry.
The 46-year-old landed nine (of 14) fairways, pelted 14 greens in regulation, requiring 28 putts. He birdied Nos. 1, 5, 7, 11 and 17 before trouble off the tee at the par-4 18th led to a lone bogey.
It's his first top 10 in just his fifth start of the season, supplanting a previous best of T35 at THE PLAYERS, and his seventh top 10 in 22 U.S. Open appearances, three of those runner-up finishes. Furyk gains 13 places in OWGR from No. 32 to No. 19. It's his 30th runner-up in 549 career starts (546 pro), and first since T2 at the 2014 TOUR Championship.
Scott Piercy: Making his fifth U.S. Open appearance and first since a MC in 2013, the 37-year-old battled to a 1-under-par 33-36=69 in the final round to bump five places into a three-way T2, three adrift of the champion.
Piercy began the final round in a two-way T7 on even-par (68-70-72), seven adrift of Lowry. Playing out of the fourth-to-last twosome, he mustered five (of 14) fairways, hit 13 greens in regulation and totaled 30 putts. The Las Vegas native and resident birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 12 and was blemish-free thru 15 holes before bogeys on 16 and 18.
It’s his second top 10 of the season in 17 starts (T7, CIMB Classic) and more importantly, a career best and second top 10 in 13 major appearances (T5, 2013 PGA Championship). His previous best (and lone cash) at the U.S. Open was T51 in 2011 (Congressional). Piercy hops 24 places in OWGR from No. 67 to No. 43.
Shane Lowry: After opening his fourth appearance in 68-70 and a week-tying-low 65, the 29-year-old began the finale with a four-shot lead over playing competitor Landry, who succumbed to a birdie-less 78.
It was Lowry’s first 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR in his 41st career start. His 7-under aggregate tied the low 54-hole tally at Oakmont CC (in U.S. Opens) with Ernie Els (1994), who went on to win.
Things did not go well for the Irishman however, as he cratered to a 6-over-par 38-38=76, down one place into a three-way T2, three back of champion.
Lowry peppered 10 (of 14) fairways but managed just nine GIR and totaled 33 putts. He circled a lone birdie from 12 inches at the par-5 12th and squared seven bogeys, including three straight on 14-16.
The 2015 winner at the WGC-Bridgestone, settles for a career best in 14 major appearances, previously T9 two times, and his first career runner-up on TOUR. It's also a season best in 12 events and second top 10 (T6, WMPO). Lowry moves 16 spots in OWGR from No. 41 to No. 25.
What We Learned:
The pre-tourney odds-favorites have won just TWICE this season thru 32 events and Jordan Spieth has both of them, winning the DEAN & DELUCA and the Hyundai TOC. Jason Day was the pre-tourney fave this week at 7/1 and finished T8.
In total, ALL 50 of the Top 50 OWGR were in the field with EIGHT finishing in the Top 10:
No. 1 Jason Day (T8)
No. 6: Dustin Johnson (Won)
No. 12: Branden Grace (T5)
No. 13: Sergio Garcia (T5)
No. 21: Zach Johnson (T8)
No. 32: Jim Furyk (T2)
No. 33: Kevin Na (7th); only player to connect three sub-par rounds (75-68-69-69)
No. 41: Shane Lowry (T2)
Shout out to 102nd-ranked Daniel Summerhays who finished T8 on 2-over 282 (74-65-69-74). It’s his first top 10 of the season in 19 starts (eighth top 25) and a career best in four major appearances, previously T27 (2015 U.S. Open). The 32-year-old was the ONLY one (of eight) alternates to make the cut.
Players in the Top 20 OWGR who failed to make the cut.
No. 3: Rory McIlroy
No. 5: Rickie Fowler
No. 10: Justin Rose
No. 11: Patrick Reed
No. 15: Hideki Matsuyama
No. 17: Phil Mickelson
No. 19: J.B. Holmes
No. 20: Brandt Snedeker
Special mention to No. 7 Henrik Stenson who opened with 69 and was 10-over thru 16 holes in R2 (9-over total) when he WD – failing to return on Saturday morning to complete the round. Initially, the Swede did not provide a reason, later stating minor injuries the cause via Twitter. Stenson was the only player to WD.
Other disappointing finishes included:
No. 3: Defender Jordan Spieth (T37) on 9-over 289
No. 4: Bubba Watson (T51) on 12-over 292
No. 9: Danny Willett (T37) on 9-over 289
No. 18: Matt Kuchar (T46) on 10-over 290
There were 48 first-timers in field of 156, and SIX (of 17) TOUR rookies.
Andrew Landry: Despite ending his major championship debut with a birdie-less 8-over-par 42-36=78, the 624th-ranked player in the world still took top honors in both categories with T15 on 2-over 285.
Landry was the surprise first-round leader with 66, the first debutant to lead after the conclusion of a U.S. Open round since Brendon de Jonge (R1/2010). He hung tough with chasing rounds of 71-70 to begin the finale on 3-under in a two-way T2, four back of Lowry.
Playing out of the final twosome, the Web.com Tour grad struggled from the outset, bogeying his first two holes, adding further dropped shots on Nos. 4, 7, 8 and retreating two with double bogey-6 at the fifth. After making the turn 7-over, he squared the 10th before righting the ship with eight closing pars. The Texan landed only five (of 14) fairways, hit 12 GIR, but totaled 37 putts.
The 28-year-old was making just his 13th career start on TOUR, 12th this season, and obliterated his previous best of T41 at last week's FedEx St. Jude Classic. He catapults 245 places to OWGR No. 379.
The TOUR heads to Bethesda, Maryland, for this week’s Quicken Loans National at Congressional CC. Troy Merritt is the defending champion after winning last year’s edition at Robert Trent Jones GC (Virginia) by three over runner-up Rickie Fowler.
Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and opinions as the TOUR readies for its 33rd tournament of the season.