Look, golf is a tough game. And the U.S. Open is the toughest test of golf in America. So you can forgive Spencer Levin for a Friday afternoon outburst in which he let fly all his demons at once.
Levin was playing the seventh hole of the second round, the second round of 18 holes he'd played on the day, when a shot drifted into a bunker. Levin finally decided that he'd seen enough of this freaking course:
Surely some purists will say that Levin should have kept his composure, should have maintained some measure of grace under pressure, should have preserved the dignity of the game, blah blah blah. Whatever. Oakmont is a brutally hard course, and sometimes the only way to take out your frustration is to bash the earth like you're Thor. Hang in there, Spencer. We've all been there.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
In case you've forgotten, this is a Ryder Cup year. So, it's through that lens that a partisan American golf fan has to be disappointed by what transpired on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Sergio Garcia won the tournament in what can only be seen as a collapse by a pair of leading Americans who don't have their full games on form.
First, world No. 2 Jordan Spieth, with a game held together for the first three days by the glue of his remarkable ability to chip and putt, fell apart. He shot 4-over 74 to drop from solo second into a tie for 18th place.
Then, 54-hole leader Brooks Koepka, who also said Saturday he was struggling with his ballstriking, surrendered control of the tournament with shaky chipping and putting. He made consecutive bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 at TPC Four Seasons in Dallas, missing a 17-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole that could have salvaged the win. He missed, shooting 1-over 71, drawing into a playoff with Garcia, who shot 2-under 68 despite putting two balls in water hazards in a windy final round.
On the first and only playoff hole, Kopeka went first and pulled his tee shot into the water hazard guarding the left side of the 18th hole. Undaunted, Garcia also hit driver on an aggressive line that found dry land. After a drop, Koepka made an uninspired gouge at his third shot that came up 20 yards short of the target. Garcia found the green, made par and won the Nelson for the second time in his career, 12 years after his first win in a playoff.
Garcia now has as many PGA Tour wins -- nine -- as the late Seve Ballesteros, who until Sunday had the most among Spaniards. (Ballesteros did it in 151 starts, while Garcia did it in 301.)
For as disconcerting as the final round was for Spieth and Koepka, Americans dominated the top nine, with Matt Kuchar finishing alone in third at 14-under 266, one shot out of the playoff. Six players -- including five Americans -- finished tied for fourth: Colt Knost, Bud Cauley, Robert Garrigus, Spencer Levin, Charles Howell III and Aussie Tim Wilkinson.
October 31, 2015
With a birdie on the final hole on Saturday, Justin Thomas retained a share of the lead at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
Thomas, who shot a second-round, tournament-record 61 to take the lead at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, turned in a third round of 5-under 67 to join Brendan Steele (66) on 20-under 196.
"This is where you want to put yourself at every event," said Thomas, who came up just short of reaching the Tour Championship in his rookie year last season. "I'm just going to use my past learning experiences in the other events I've played in and just try to go out there and hit a bunch of fairways."
Thomas came to the finishing hole coming off what he considered a good bogey on the 16th and a bounceback birdie on the 17th. On the par-5 18th, Thomas went long with his approach shot and felt fortunate to have a good lie to get up-and-down for the tying birdie.
"I had 242 (yards to the) hole, and I just kind of just barely caught it a groove low and it knuckled and went over the green," he said. "Being in the rough you never know what kind of lie you're going to get."
Steele, who was the 54-hole leader at the season-opening Frys.com Open before slumping to a final-round 76 to fall into a tie for 17th place, said he hopes that experience taught him to focus on the round at hand and not winning.
"Trying to be a little bit more patient and a little bit more positive, not kind of put so much pressure on myself and just enjoy it a little bit more," Steele said of his plans for this final-pairing opportunity. "Because it's not like it's going to be, hopefully, not the last time that I have a chance to win. So, you can't really look at it like it is your only chance. So that's kind of the problem."
Kevin Na, who has been runner-up in each of the first two events of the PGA Tour season, is a shot behind the co-leaders.
Four players are tied for fourth at 17 under par, including Spencer Levin, Hideki Matsuyama, James Hahn and Brian Harman.