UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington (Reuters) - Masters champion Jordan Spieth gave Chambers Bay a worthy winner at the U.S. Open after a riveting final round but the greens on the links-style layout did not meet with universal player approval.
Especially on the lower part of the course adjacent to the waters of Puget Sound, poa has mixed in with the dominant fescue grass on already slick and heavily contoured greens, creating a blotchy look and some very uneven and unpredictable putts.
England’s Ian Poulter launched into a tirade after closing with a seven-over-par 77, describing the greens as the “worst most disgraceful surface I have ever seen” while American Billy Horschel said they were “very disappointing” after carding a 67.
The views expressed by Poulter and Horschel are noteworthy as they are both known as good putters though Australian Geoff Ogilvy offered a contrasting opinion, telling Reuters he thought PGA Tour players had become spoilt and should be able to adapt.
“We have it so perfect every week,” said Ogilvy, who won the 2006 U.S. Open and tied for 18th at Chambers Bay after shooting a 67. “We are losing the ability to adapt, to see the speed difference when you look at it, to feel it under your feet.
“We’ve played far bumpier greens at U.S. Opens than this. Pebble Beach is one, in the morning they’re great and it all kind of changes in the afternoon when the sun comes out.
“Yeah, there are a couple of ropey greens here, but good putters usually hole more putts on slightly ropey greens.”
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened for play in 2007, picturesque Chambers Bay featured the biggest elevation changes ever seen at a U.S. Open and was set up for the second round at 7,695 yards — the longest layout to stage the major.
Covered throughout by fescue grass and framed by towering sand dunes, the punishing par-70 course tested players to the full with luck of the bounce commonplace on undulating fairways and firming, often crusting, greens.
Those greens courted criticism from players all week, Swede Henrik Stenson saying it was “pretty much like putting on broccoli” and American Patrick Reed referring to “Mickey Mouse golf” on the 18th green.
“It wasn’t a bad golf course,” Poulter wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “In fact it played well and was playable. What wasn’t playable were the green surfaces.
“If this was a regular PGA tour event lots of players would have withdrawn and gone home on Wednesday, but players won’t do that for a major.
“They were simply the worst most disgraceful surface I have ever seen on any tour in all the years I have played.”
American Billy Horschel also weighed in, saying: “Tee to green it’s fair. But it’s just been a disappointing week with the way the greens are.
“We’re not looking for perfect greens ... we’re looking for something that’s very consistent. And this week they’re not.
“I’ve hit a lot of really good putts that have bounced all over the world. So it’s just frustrating.”
Spieth, who emerged triumphant by one shot on Sunday after a wild final round of frequent lead changes and dramatic swings in fortune, is arguably the best putter in the game with his silky stroke, and even he struggled at Chambers Bay.
“It’s not easy to get any putt down in two here,” the 21-year-old American said after winning the first two majors of the season.
“I three-putted, nine or 10 times this week. With the ridges and the greens firming up and getting faster, it’s just tricky.”
Spieth had the perfect answer, though, when asked how he overcame any concerns about the greens.
“Well, we got over it,” he replied. “Someone had to hold the trophy. The quicker you realize that and don’t worry about it, the easier it is just to move on with your game and that’s what we try to do.
“I felt like we putted well inside 10 feet. And par is a good score. That’s what’s great about a U.S. Open, it’s a grind.”
Editing by Frank Pingue