June 18, 2018: The US Open is never short on drama and dilemma. The events over the past four days have reaffirmed that in ample measure, as yet another edition of the US Open drew to a close. Brooks Koepka played with great control and discipline, especially over the final three rounds to clinch a remarkable second US Open title.
Dustin Johnson left New York with some regret, after failing to carry home a healthy four stroke advantage into Saturday and a share of the 54 hole lead.
But the week will be remembered in equal measure for the debauchery of Phil Mickelson. Lefty does a great job of keeping Mr. Hyde in check, but Shinnecock helped unmask his true face. At 17-over and basically at the bottom, a frustrated Mickelson overhit his putt at the 13th on Saturday.
As his ball was rolling off the green, Mickelson ran and played the moving ball back towards the pin, incurring a two shot penalty. Several people, including fellow golfers believed that a disqualification might have been a better response by the USGA.
The course was hard as nails, testing golfers of all hues with the treacherous rough and racing greens combining to tease golfers into near embarrassment.
Shubhankar Sharma, playing in his first US Open, played with remarkable composure. The Indian was well on his way to make the cut at 7-over through 34 holes.
But a bogey at the 8th took him near the edge and a double bogey at the 9th toppled him over, undoing some disciplined golf over two days.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth failed to make the cut dancing to the diktats of this unforgiving course.
The US Open is a fine test of a golfer – examining attitude and skills in equal measure. While the USGA’s experiments with edge of the green pins on Saturday was panned and rightfully so, a little more conviction would serve them better in the future.
The USGA, weathered by all round criticism, seemed to have brought the hose pipes out to douse the fire. In doing so they over compensated, creating far easier conditions for the final round. Tommy Fleetwood made the most of it, becoming just the sixth golfer to shoot 63 in a US Open.
Johnson is now 0-3 in the US Open, when he woke up Sunday with the 54 hole lead to his name (2010 U.S. Open/T8, 2015 U.S. Open/T2, 2018 U.S. Open/3). This is his fourth top five finish in the last five editions of the event, but he left Shinnecock with a 70 to his name and a painful grimace on his face. Johnson has now blown majors at Whistling Straits, Pebble Beach, Royal St. George’s, Chambers Bay and Shinnecock Hills now.
The tour now moves to Europe for the third and perhaps the most important major, the Open Championship at Carnoustie.