OAKMONT, Pa. — Jordan Spieth couldn't believe it. Rory McIlroy was incredulous. And if you want the ultimate authority chiming in on the USGA nearly turning the final round of the 116th U.S. Open into a complete debacle, how about Jack Nicklaus.
With Dustin Johnson in the clubhouse at Oakmont Country Club, reviewing video with the USGA to determine if he'd incur a one-stroke penalty for something that happened more than three hours earlier, Nicklaus, standing on the 18th green where he would soon put the gold medal around Johnson's neck, was asked if he'd ever experienced anything like what Johnson just did.
Here's what Johnson experienced: standing over a putt on the fifth hole, Johnson saw his ball move. Certain he hadn't grounded his club, which would have meant a 1-stroke penalty, Johnson still called in a rules official to be safe. After a brief discussion, the official was satisfied that Johnson had done nothing wrong, and play resumed.
Yeah, this seriously happened in the final round of the U.S. Open.
OAKMONT, Pa.—Dustin Johnson finally has his major victory, winning the U.S. Open, but not without the USGA getting in his way and nearly turning their national championship into a fisaco.
Standing at the 12th tee at Oakmont Country Club, holding a two-stroke lead in the U.S. Open, Johnson got a visit from several USGA officials.
They wanted to let him know that he may have incurred a penalty back on the fifth hole. And just like that, the 116th U.S. Open was engulfed in controversy.
Johnson, on the fifth green, had called in a rules official to inform him Johnson's ball had moved. Per USGA rules, it's a one-stroke penalty if he had grounded his club. Johnson assured the official he hadn't, so no harm, no foul. Until there was, at least in the USGA's eyes.
Apparently officials reviewed video and determined that Johnson had in fact caused the ball to move. Or at least had enough question in their minds to inform Johnson—in the middle of his round—that they were reviewing it and considering assessing him a one stroke penalty.
Makes sense? Not really. You're either sure or you're not.
Maybe. No one quite knew, because the USGA didn't know.
OAKMONT, Pa.—Standing on the 12th tee, Dustin Johnson held a two-stroke lead in the U.S. Open. Then several USGA officials approached Johnson, and his lead might not have been so large after all.
Back on the fifth green, Johnson had stood over a short par putt, then backed off and called in a rules official. His ball had moved. Johnson wanted to let the official know of the movement, and that he had not grounded his club. If he had, he would be facing a one-stroke penalty. [UPDATE: Johnson was indeed penalized, but won the U.S. Open regardless.]
The rules official at the fifth hole was satisfied that Johnson hadn't incurred a penalty, so Johnson continued on, draining the putt.
But video replay may have shown rules officials otherwise. USGA officials approached Johnson on the 12th tee to inform him that the tale of the moving ball wasn't yet finished.
"Really?" Strange, a two-time U.S. Open winner, wondered aloud.
Three former World No. 1s took to Twitter to scorch the USGA for its decisionmaking:
OAKMONT, Pa. — When he led after Round 1, the thought was, "Nice story, but he'll fade."
When he went bogey, bogey, double bogey in the middle of Round 2it was, "Well, there he goes."
So what is there to say now after 49 holes that the kid, Andrew Landry, ranked 624th in the world, is still very much in the mix at the 116th U.S. Open?
Shane Lowry held the lead as Round 3 was suspended due to darkness Saturday night. At 5-under with four holes still to play, Lowry held a 2-stroke lead over Landry. (UPDATE: As Round 3 concluded Sunday morning, Lowry moved to 7-under to stretch his lead to four over Landry and Dustin Johnson.)
It's a toughness instilled in him at a young age when his older brother Adam would go out of his way to try to rattle his little bro.
He knew that if there ever came a week like this, that his brother would need to know that he'd been through the ringer before.
Updated as of 2:15 p.m. ET
OAKMONT, Pa. — Thought Andrew Landry would shrivel up under the U.S. Open pressure and go away, didn't you?
Looked that way for a moment, when the stunning first-round leader went bogey-bogey-double on the front nine of Round 2 Saturday to fall from 4-under to even par. But Landry held tough – real tough. He birdied 13, drained a long birdie putt at 17, then stuck his approach at 18 to three feet for another birdie.
And just like that, the 624th-ranked player in the world worked his way into the final group when Round 3 begins sometime around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Landry (3-under) will be paired with Dustin Johnson (4-under) and Scott Piercy (2-under).
"I feel very comfortable," Landry said after firing a second-round 71. "I feel like this golf course suits me very well. I can just get out there and play my game. I don't have to – I'm not the player that's going to go out and shoot 28 under par. I've never been that guy, so I'm always the guy that's going to kind of just dink it around right there and make pars and throw in a couple birdies."
Who is Gregory Bourdy?
Who's heading home?
OAKMONT, Pa. — Dustin Johnson comes to every major trying to exorcise the demons. And if he needed a reminder of his mission Friday, all he had to do was look to his playing partner, Sergio Garcia, for a reminder.
The USGA likes to have fun with its pairings come U.S. Open time. They've had the pleasantly plump pairing. They had the short-name long-name pairing Friday (Na, Kim and Aphibarnrat). DJ's was the best-players-never-to-have-won-majors pairing.
Garcia is as famous for that as he is his enthusiasm. The wonder kid who almost won the PGA Championship as a 19-year-old in 1999 has finished second three other times in majors.
What Sergio was to the majors in the 2000s, Johnson is to the 2010s.
Multiple heartbreaks, grueling at times. Painful and unfortunate, too.
It would have only been natural for those thoughts to run through his head Friday in the midst of a 36-hole, weather-induced marathon, one that started at 9:06 a.m. and didn't end until 8:43 p.m., with Johnson in prime position.
OAKMONT, Pa. — Jason Day arrived at the tee box of the 331-yard 14th and didn't hesitate. He whipped out his driver.
All week long, in the lead up to the 116th U.S. Open here at Oakmont Country Club, player after player talked about leaving the driver in the bag, Day included. Better to play it safe than to tempt Oakmont's narrow corridors. Day estimated he'd maybe hit driver on four holes total.
But there he was, at the 14th, grabbing driver without hesitation.
And why not? He was sitting 5-over par for the championship, not a birdie on his card and very much in danger of missing the cut even with Round 1 not even in the books. The only solace out there, if he'd even consider it that, was that he wasn't alone.
So is the U.S. Open, golf's ultimate equalizer, where the 624th-ranked player can run laps around the world's best. And if you want, throw in world No. 5 Rickie Fowler for good measure. He shot a 6-over 76.
Other than that lone highlight, it was mostly frustration for Day, and for Spieth and McIlroy, too, who finished their rounds earlier in the morning.
Not exactly the words of someone thinking he can win the tournament.
OAKMONT, Pa. — The 2016 U.S. Open is a mess, mostly because of stop-and-go rain Thursday that threw the schedule into chaos, but partly because of how the USGA has responded to said chaos.
Consider this: At 7:30 a.m. ET Friday morning, when Round 1 play resumed, tournament leader Andrew Landry lined up a 10-foot putt on his final hole, drained it, then went home for the day.
Two hours later, Phil Mickelson, who didn't play at all on Thursday, teed off to start his U.S. Open. If his round takes about 4½ hours to complete, that puts him in the clubhouse at around 2 p.m., giving him about two hours to regroup before he heads back out to the course for another 18 holes.
So, Phil Mickeslon is going to play 36 holes Friday, while Andrew Landry will hit one putt.
And it's going to be like that for the entire field.
This is done in the interest of fairness, even if it doesn't always work out that way.
OAKMONT, Pa. — Sitting on a shuttle in a Macy's parking lot, on her way to the Houston airport earlier this week, Tricia Landry picked up her phone and dialed her son Andrew.
"I just needed to hear your voice," she said, tears flowing down her face.
"It's going to be OK," Andrew reassured her. "It's just another tournament."
Only it's not really just another tournament; it's the U.S. Open. And it's especially not just another tournament for Andrew Landry, the Texan ranked 624th in the world who had to qualify just to be here.
So on Thursday when her son strolled up the seventh fairway Thursday at mighty Oakmont, the leader of the U.S. Open by three strokes, Tricia Landry looked back.
Back to the day she told her brother, a golfer, her two sons wanted to play the game. "Don't let 'em go to the range," he told her. "They'll get lazy. Buy 'em a bucket of balls and take 'em to the school."
Back to the summer weekends in Texas when she and Drew (as she calls him) hopped in the car to head to another golf tournament.
Tears roll out from under her sunglasses as she recalls the text.
OAKMONT, Pa. — On the eve of the 116th U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson returned to Oakmont Country Club after a two-day, cross-country trek back home to California to see his daughter graduate from eighth grade.
That's the Phil Mickelson golf fans have fallen in love with over the last two decades: the expecting father losing the U.S. Open by a stroke the day before his first child was born; the doting husband to his cancer-stricken wife; and the dutiful father of three who not once but twice has skipped out of practice rounds for the U.S. Open to attend a child's eighth-grade graduation.
He's a good guy … a good guy who, if the PGA Tour were following its own rules, wouldn't be playing in any PGA Tour event this year or next.
On Page 147 of the PGA Tour Player Handbook, in the Conduct of Players section, there is a list of things players shall not do. No. 3 on that list, all of which are "subject to a suspension from tournament play for a minimum of two seasons," states the following:
"Associate with or have dealings with persons whose activities, including gambling, might reflect adversely upon the integrity of the game of golf."