The second for Jordan Spieth came on Sunday night with a bit more difficulty. Had Dustin Johnson been a little more steady with the putter on the final green – he three-putted from 12 feet – the destination of the US Open trophy might have been different.
Johnson wasn’t, much to the astonishment of the 6,000 or so who crowded the grandstands at maligned Chambers Bay for an Open finish like no other. He had to settle for holding his infant son off the 18th green on Father’s Day, instead of the trophy.
That belonged to Spieth, the phenomenon from Texas who impressed so many by not only winning the Masters but with the grace and composure he showed while doing it. He spoke after that win about bringing a present home to his special- needs sister, and it was clear that meant almost as much to him as winning his first green jacket. He’s now halfway to history, yet still barely old enough to drink. The last player who did things like Spieth was Tiger Woods, which seems so long ago.
Now he’s the youngest since Bobby Jones nearly a century ago to win back-to-back major championships. Spieth has a chance to do what even Woods couldn’t and win all four of golf’s major tournaments in one year.
Watching him on Sunday on the crunchy greens at Chambers Bay, it was hard not to get the sense that he’s only just begun.
“He’s gritty, he’s fiery, he doesn’t give up on any shot,” caddie Michael Greller said. “If anything, this week just validated who I know he is, which is just a world-class player with an unbelievable mind.”
The story at this US Open unfolded easily, like it was written by a golf historian of the future. Woods came here to try to salvage his game, while Spieth came to cement his mark as a generational champion in the making.
Woods didn’t even make it to the weekend in another display of how humbling golf can be. The greatest player of his time seems forever stuck on 14 majors, and it remains to be seen how long he will keep embarrassing himself like he did here when he couldn’t even come close to beating a 15-year-old amateur before getting out of town on his private jet before the weekend began.
It was Spieth who salvaged this US Open, making it one to remember for all the right reasons instead of the wrong. His 3-wood to the 18th on Sunday was the kind of shot that will live in golf lore, even if Spieth didn’t make the eagle putt and even if he had to rely on Johnson three-putting from 12 feet to seal the deal.
“This was just an odd deal, very odd,” Spieth said. “I very much feel for Dustin. He deserves to be holding the trophy just as much as I do, I think, this week. It just came down to him being the last one to finish and I was able to have one hole to rebound from my mistakes, and he wasn’t able to get that hole afterwards.”
That Spieth did it without his best game should give his fellow competitors pause. His ball striking was just a bit off, he said, his putting not always up to his standards.
It was the kind of thing Woods used to say, then go out and beat everyone anyway. It didn’t seem possible another player of that calibre would come along in his time, but here Spieth is, at the age of 21, brimming with confidence as the Open Championship at St Andrews approaches and the possibility of a Grand Slam looms.
“I’m just focused on the Claret Jug now,” he said of the Open trophy. “I think that the Grand Slam is something that I never could really fathom somebody doing, considering I watched Tiger win when he was winning whatever percentage of the majors he played in and he won the Tiger Slam, but he never won the four in one year. I figured if anybody was going to do it, it would be him.”
After doing all the right things to win his second title, Spieth said all the right things. He thanked his caddie, said he was happy just to be the brother of Steven Spieth, a shooting guard at Brown University.
And he held the trophy and looked at his beaming father just off the 18th green to show off the best Father’s Day present ever.
“To win this tournament on Father’s Day, I just hope my dad’s proud of me,” he said. “Dad, this one was definitely for you today. This trophy is for you, and this is a day we’ll never forget.”
They won’t, after a Sunday that a lot of people in golf won’t soon forget either.