Johnson unable to keep momentum going at U.S. Open

Sports

Dustin Johnson, of the United States, plays his shot from the fourth tee during the third round of the US Open Golf Championship, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Mamaroneck, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Dustin Johnson arrived at Winged Foot playing better golf than arguably anyone in the world.

A balky putter cost him any shot at a second U.S. Open title.

Unable to get much going from the start, Johnson closed out his tournament with a even-par 70 on Sunday in final round. He finished tied for sixth at 5 over, 11 shots behind winner Bryson DeChambeau.

“It’s a good week, tough golf course,” he said. “I struggled on the greens a little bit. That was probably the biggest thing for me is just didn’t hole enough putts. I gave myself enough chances, but I just didn’t putt well.”

Johnson won two of the three playoff events and was second in the other, clinching his first FedEx Cup title with his victory at the Tour Championship. The 2016 U.S. Open champion opened this year’s tournament with a 3-over 73 and never really got on track at Winged Foot.

Johnson repeatedly had to hack out of the thick rough after hitting 46% of the fairways and was tied for 27th among the players who made the cut with 1.65 putts per round.

“I felt like I hit a lot of good putts, just none that went in the hole,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of my story.”

PANDEMIC CELEBRATION

It was a major celebration for the coronavirus age: After winning the U.S. Open, Bryson DeChambeau had a video chat with his parents.

After walking out of the clubhouse following a final round 67 that gave him a six-stroke victory and his first major title, DeChambeau spied his parents on the screen set up alongside Winged Foot’s historic stone clubhouse. The 27-year-old NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion choked up for a moment before raising his arms and saying, “I did it!”

The elder DeChambeaus had a bit of trouble keeping their picture horizontal before sharing the screen with other family members.

“Thank you for sacrificing everything for me,” DeChambeau told his parents before heading over to pick up his new trophy. “I love you guys so much.”

CONSISTENT SCHAUFFELE

Xander Schauffele has been one of the most consistent players in majors his first four full seasons on the PGA Tour, finishing in the top 10 seven of 13 times.

He’s still searching for that first win.

Schauffele started Sunday five shots behind leader Matthew Wolff and was derailed by a string of five straight bogeys on the back nine. He shot 4-over 74 in the final round and finished at 4 over to take solo fifth.

Still in contention after an even-par 35 on the front nine, he fell off the pace with a three-put bogey at No. 13 and four straight tee shots that missed the fairways right.

Schauffele finished off his round nicely, knocking in an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

“It’s a really hard golf course. Simple enough,” he said. “Hitting it far helps. I got a bit exposed there on the back nine, so happy to finish with a birdie.”

MCILROY’S DROUGHT

Rory McIlroy had an outside shot of catching the U.S. Open leaders, starting six shots back heading into the final round.

Four putts from just off the first hole dashed his hopes.

Derailed by the opening hole, McIlroy shot a 5- over 75 in the final round at Winged Foot, extending his winless streak in majors to 21 straight. He finished 12 shots behind champion Bryson DeChambeau, tying for eighth at 6 over.

“It was hard to give yourself enough chances and leave yourself in the right spots where you could make a run at putts and birdie putts,” he said. “Just sort of being real defensive on the greens, trying to sort of think about your next putt and where the best place to leave it is.”

The four-time major champion has not won one of golf’s biggest tournaments since the 2014 PGA Championship

His next chance in this strange, pandemic-shortened season will come at Augusta.

The Masters, typically held in early April, was postponed at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and rescheduled for Nov. 12-15. The dogwoods and azaleas will not be in bloom as they usually are in the spring and Augusta National will likely play very different.

Tiger Woods is the reigning champion after claiming his 15th major title 17 months ago.

EXEMPT STATUS

The U.S. Open next year returns to Torrey Pines for the first time since Tiger Woods won in a playoff in 2008.

Zach Johnson and Will Zalatoris know they’ll have spots in the field.

The top 10 and ties are exempt into next year’s tournament, giving Johnson and Zalatoris a chance to plan for next year.

Zalatoris had the second of two aces at the pac-3 seventh hole in the opening round and finished tied for sixth at 5 over after shooting a final-round 71. He’s the Korn Ferry points leader, but can’t join the PGA Tour until next year due to the coronavirus schedule. Zalatoris is scheduled to play next week on the PGA Tour stop in the Dominican Republic.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I’ve been playing well all year. I just found out that top 10 gets us into next year too, so that’s obviously pretty exciting.”

Johnson, a two-time major champion, tied for eighth at 6 over after a final-round 74 that included two birdies and six bogeys.

LOW AM

John Pak was guaranteed to be the low amateur when he was the only one to make the cut. That allowed him to enjoy himself a little more over the weekend.

“I’ve never played in anything like this, a golf course this hard, a competition this tough,” he said. “It shows that my game is at a point where I can try and compete against the best players in the world.”

The Florida State All-American couldn’t get back to his opening-round performance, when he shot a 69, following it up with 76-79-74 to finish 18 over for the tournament.

Pak, wearing a Florida State hoodie, was honored before DeChambeau received the winner’s trophy, but had to place the low amateur medal around his own neck due to coronavirus precautions.

Fred Couples (1979), Brad Faxon (’83) and Phil Mickelson (’90, ’91) and are among previous low amateurs at the U.S. Open.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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