With U.S. Open Victory, Jordan Spieth Wins Second Major In A Row

Jun 22, 2015
Originally published on June 22, 2015 8:07 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


It is now official. Men's professional golf has a new superstar. He's just 21 years old. He's American Jordan Spieth, and, yesterday, he won the 115th U.S. Open Golf Championship outside Tacoma, Wash. Spieth has now won the first two major championships of the year. He won the Masters in April. His victory yesterday, though, came with a stunning finish. NPR's Tom Goldman was there to take it all in.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Yes, the end was stunning, but it was also golf, an exacting sport. Its difficulties masked for the most part by the professionals. Sometimes the mask comes off.


GOLDMAN: Several thousand crowded around the 18th green gasped and groaned as Dustin Johnson's four-foot putt slipped by the hole. Had it gone in, he would've tied Jordan Spieth and sent the tournament to a Monday playoff. This was after he missed the putt before, roughly a 12-footer that would've given Johnson his first major title. So he went from outright winner, to a tie for first, to second in two putts. Spieth, who finished right before Johnson, was in a room with his caddie and a television.

JORDAN SPIETH: And I was sitting with him when that second putt missed, and I just - my eyes were wide looking at the TV screen, and he was silent as well. We didn't really know what to do and then got up. He said, dude, give me a hug. You did it.

GOLDMAN: The shock was even greater because dude almost didn't do it. After he sank a birdie putt on the 16th green, Spieth had a three-shot lead over his nearest competitors, including Johnson. So what happened? He stepped to the tee on 17 and hit a really crummy shot.


SPIETH: Just poor execution. That's as far off-line as I've hit a 6-iron in a long time. In midair, I was like that might go out of bounds.

GOLDMAN: It didn't, but he still took a double bogey, shrinking his lead to one shot. That would ultimately hold up as the margin of victory. Right afterwards, he held the U.S. Open trophy with one hand by his side, kind like he didn't yet believe it. But the reality quickly hit as reporters reminded him he's rewriting or at least adding to golf's history books. Spieth is the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923, youngest to win two major tournaments since Gene Sarazen in 1922.

SPIETH: This is my life. I've now been doing it for a while, and I don't really think of my age. I just think of us all as peers, and it's cool to be able to have, you know, two legs of the grand slam now and to conquer golf's hardest test.




GOLDMAN: Dustin Johnson, DJ, exited the scene after his 18th green ordeal, smiling, holding his infant son, whom he later called his trophy. Johnson's missed opportunity reinforces a perception that he can't win big ones. In 2010, he led both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship but didn't win because of poor golf and mental mistakes. This time, Johnson said he did everything he could - almost everything.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I hit the ball really well. I'm proud of the way I handled myself and the way I played today. I just - I really struggled getting it in the hole today.

GOLDMAN: It's fitting missed putts were the headline story at the end. The greens on the breathtaking and challenging Chambers Bay Course were the center of controversy all tournament long. For some, that may be the legacy of this first-ever U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest. To many others, Chambers Bay will be remembered as another step toward greatness for golf's latest phenom. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Tacoma, Wash. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.