Oosthuizen, McIlroy, Scott make Sunday runs
June 20, 2015
By Helen Ross , PGATOUR.COM
- Louis Oosthuizen shot 29 on the back nine Sunday at Chambers Bay, making birdie on six of the last seven holes. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – It always happens. Someone always comes from out of the pack on the final day of a major championship when the pressure on the leaders is suffocating and those chasing have nothing to lose.
On Sunday at Chambers Bay in the 115th U.S. Open, those forays came repeatedly, too, but Jordan Spieth held firm, making birdie on the final hole to win the second leg of the calendar-year Grand Slam.
That final birdie enabled the 21-year-old American to beat Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke. While Johnson had been one of the three tied with Spieth for the overnight lead, though, Oosthuizen had to birdie six of his last seven holes to close the gap.
"You sort of forget how you play when you get in that situation of having a chance of winning a major," the South African said. "It was nice being in that spot again. I felt very relaxed. I felt eager to get to the next hole and try and get some birdies going. I wasn't nervous at all.
"I'll take a lot out of this week, especially the last three days, the way I played. I could have easily today shot a big number after that start. I just fought and tried to just have a good week."
The furious finish that led to the phenomenal inward 29 was necessary after Oosthuizen had bogeyed three of his first four holes on Sunday. Not to mention, the 2010 Open champion (St. Andrews) had rebounded first from a 77 in the opening round to shoot a pair of 66s.
"I just kept on playing," Oosthuizen said. "You get rounds like that. But (I’m) proud of myself, the way I came back and kept on playing, and knew my game was not far off. That 77 was … I could have easily had a horrible Friday and watched this on television."
And, oh, what he would have missed.
The afternoon started with Rory McIlroy staring smack dab at something potentially historic when he played his first 13 holes Sunday at Chambers Bay in 6 under.
One more birdie and he’d have tied the major-championship scoring record. Two and McIlroy could have posted a number lower than any other -- and maybe won the 115th U.S. Open in the process.
McIlroy made two bogeys in his next four holes, though, and as quickly as he surged up the leaderboard, the world No. 1 took a tumble that shifted the spotlight to Adam Scott, who was making his own come-from-behind bid for his second major championship.
The hard-charging Aussie finished strong where McIlroy had faltered, making birdies at the drivable par-4 16th and the par-5 18th to post the lowest round of the tournament. Scott’s 64, which moved him to 3 under for the tournament, tied for the second-lowest score ever shot in the U.S. Open.
"I came to the course thinking that if I got to under par it would be all right, and then I saw the setup and I kind of thought that might not be enough," Scott said. "So toward the end I wanted to get a couple of birdies coming in. I knew 18 is a 5, and 16 is drivable.
"So it was important, I thought, late in the round to get to 3 and post and at least have the leaders think about things through to the 15th before they get their opportunities at 16 and 18."
McIlroy had hoped to post 4 under -- instead, he finished 72 holes at even par. He had trouble with the closing holes all week, making a bogey and a double bogey at No. 17 and one bogey at the 18th.
"When I look back, obviously the last few holes of this golf course haven't been kind to me all week," McIlroy said. "And when I look back at this tournament, that's where I'll rue some missed opportunities."
McIlroy was solid tee-to-green but like many in the field, he never got comfortable on the inconsistent fescue putting surfaces at Chambers Bay. He used more than 30 putts each day for a total of 126 while hitting 75 percent of his fairways and 74 percent of the greens in regulation.
"I take a lot of positives out of this," said McIlroy, who is the defending champion at the next two majors. "The long game is really in good shape. I've never hit the ball as good in a major championship for four rounds. I was really dialed in all week and confident with that.
"And if I can just get the putting a little bit better and roll a few more in and get a little bit of confidence with that going, I see nothing but positive signs for the next few months."
Scott, who was reunited with his former caddie, Steve Williams, this week, also was encouraged by Sunday's round. The former world No. 1 has been strangely quiet this year, posting just one top-10 in six starts and nothing better than a tie for 35th since March.
"To be honest, it's the kind of round I needed to get things going for me this year, hopefully," Scott said.
Spieth shocks, wins and makes history