Doug Gottlieb started with the course.
Ryan Burr wanted to start with the players.
“Let me start by saying I’ve done a lot of media today,” the Golf Channel studio host said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show, “and they start with the golf course, and we never even really have time to get into what happened to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.”
Burr, of course, is referring to the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay this past weekend. Many players were unhappy with various aspects of the course, especially the greens – and they’ve said so.
“I think what happened with the golf course is such an interesting theory and story on so many fronts,” Burr said. “I’ll just start by saying this: The USGA right now is on a water-conservation kick. I was in Washington all week. I think it could be one of the great golf courses in the United States, but when you don’t water courses, this is what happens. It dies. We played at a dead golf course this week. While it provided unbelievable drama, I do see why a lot of players are coming out today.
“Listen, it’s real tough when you don’t win to complain about the conditions because you’re going to be called a baby and you’re going to be called sour grapes, and that’s what happened to everyone that’s come out,” Burr continued. “I thought the course was fair; I thought the greens were a travesty. They were a complete outrage. I tweeted a couple of pictures of dirt. Essentially there were times it was plinko and you just weren’t getting true rolls. Guys were missing putts and then missing another putt because (of) no fault of their own; it (was) just the conditions of the course.”
And yet, Spieth managed to win his second consecutive major, shooting a 275 to best Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen by a stroke.
“Listen, everyone played the same course,” Burr said. “And we essentially had the third-best player and the second-best player in the world of golf rankings, and it came down to 18. So, mission accomplished. Great drama. I think they should have just watered the greens. I was fine with playing the course the way it played. But to not put water on the greens and essentially let it die, I think it probably took away just a bit. And with that said, it was incredible drama, but I don’t think it was the absolute fairest test we could have had.”
Johnson would likely agree with that. He three-putted from 12 feet on the final hole to lose to Spieth. It was Johnson’s first three-putt from inside 15 feet all season, and his 84 previous attempts from between 10 and 15 feet were converted with two putts or fewer.
So, he choked, right?
“Correct,” Burr said. “No ifs, ands or buts about it. If he hit the putt 100 times, he’d make 99 of them. If you told him he could just keep putting it and putting it and putting it, he would have made it the first time. Dustin Johnson’s an athlete. He would tell you that it was a choke. The pressure was over the top. I think what made him choke was when he just tapped it, and I think (the) foregone conclusion in his mind was eagle to win, birdie to tie. And when he just tapped it – the eagle putt – and it just kept going and going and going, it was one of those ‘Oh my gosh, what have I done?’ moments. Because all of a sudden, what he thought was a guarantee, he’s just looking at this ball continue to move further and further away from the hole. And now all of a sudden, your confidence is gone because you’re saying what have I done before you even have to hit the putt. And then you try to hurry because everyone’s waiting. He didn’t give it its proper due, and ultimately the pressure got to him, unfortunately.”