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2015 U.S. Open Golf: Some final thoughts

By - Jun 22, 2015

Candace Oehler, who covered the U.S. Open for The Sporting Nation on the scene at Chambers Bay, offers a few thoughts wrapping up the weekend that was in the Pacific Northwest. 

The greens: 

Sunday began overcast and cool at Chambers Bay, but grounds crews were seen watering greens in an effort to keep them competitive, not crispy.  Players loudly talked and tweeted their criticism of the greens, citing the different speeds between the pure fescue greens and those where poa annua has grown in with it.  Those inconsistencies made it difficult to judge putting speed, and it was a constant source of frustration for many.  It’s interesting that putting has taken more hits than the unpredictable bounces or wild undulations.

Spectator sport: 

One of the joys of attending a professional golf tournament is the ability to follow your guy around the course, walking by the ropes, cheering him on.  That’s just not possible at Chambers Bay, which is an undeniably great golf course, but horrible spectator course.  The former sandpit, where over 1.5 million cubic tons of dirt, sand and gravel were moved to create a masterpiece of slick fairways and fescue-covered dunes, is treacherous to walk.  Caddies and on-course announcers stumbled on the slippery fescue and steep slopes, and fans were mostly relegated to watching the action from strategically-erected bleachers throughout the course.

The 18,000 seats filled early, had long waiting lines and even hosts and hostesses that guide you to an empty spot.  For those who arrived unaware of the situation and didn’t know the difficulty of walking the course, it was a major disappointment.  On the plus side, the USGA offered electric scooters, free-of-charge, to anyone who deposited a driver’s license as collateral – the downside was that the scooters are difficult to navigate through the huge crowds, and many have been seen stuck in the sandy paths between some holes.

One is a lonely number: 

“Spider Man” - Colombian Camilo Villegas, who made it to the 115th US Open via sectional qualifying, began the final day of the tournament in dead last at 15 over par. He started first and finished first, playing with a “marker,” essentially alone, more than three hours before the leaders teed off.  The four-time PGA Tour winner carded just one birdie, with six bogeys on his way to a Sunday 5-over 75, and a final plus-20 for the tournament. He was saved from last place by Chris Kirk, who carded a 10 on the first hole on his way to a plus-21 finish.

Villegas has had a tough year, with no top 10’s in 18 tournaments this season.

 72-73-80-75 | 300 | +20 | 74th place

 El Pato ducks out early:

It was a disappointing week for 2007 US Open champion Angel Cabrera, who couldn’t find any magic on his way to a 13-over finish. The 45-year old Argentinian, who also won the 2009 Masters, carded his third over-par round in a row on his way to a T64 finish.  He can take some solace, however, in the performance of his young countryman and mentee Andrés Romero, who had an exceptional week.

70-75-74-74 | 293 | +13 | T64

Andrés in the house:

Argentinian Romero announced his arrival on the scene with three consistent rounds, including a second round 69, which left him tied for ninth at +1 and in one of the final groups on Sunday.  His performance was surprising, considering that the 34-year old 2008 PGA Rookie of the Year is ranked just 204th in the world, has no wins this season, and has missed 12 cuts in 18 PGA events so far. His best finish this season was a T24 at the Valspar Championship in March.

But Romero is known to perform well in the Majors, and has finished in the top 10 in four of his nine career Major appearances. He didn’t fold on Sunday, carding his third one-over 71 to finish in a tie for 14th at just 2-over par for the tournament.  He ranked second in putting for the week and tied for 10th in birdies with 15. 

Romero, who like his fellow countryman and close friend Cabrera rose from poverty to the heights of professional golf, has 18 professional wins worldwide, including one PGA Tour victory.  He and Cabrera played several practice rounds together earlier in the week, and that time was certainly well spent.

71-69-71-71 | 282| | +2 | T14

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