Spieth halfway towards Grand Slam
For the first time since Tiger Woods in 2002 a player will be teeing off in The Open still in with a chance of an unprecedented Grand Slam of all four majors in the same year.
The player on whom so many eyes will be focused at St Andrews on July 16-19 is 21-year-old Texan Jordan Spieth, who by adding the United States Open to his Masters triumph became the fourth youngest man in history to capture two majors.
“I'm in shock, but I feel for Dustin. It's cool to be able to have two legs of the Grand Slam now and to conquer the US Open is conquering the hardest lay-out in all of golf.”
At Augusta in April the world number two knew victory was his when he sank his final putt. But at Chambers Bay near Seattle he did not know if he would be celebrating or not.
When fellow American Dustin Johnson rifled in a 247-yard five-iron to 12 feet at the closing par five the opportunity to grab the trophy with an eagle was there. Yet Johnson not only missed that, he also failed to make his short birdie attempt.
After a week of highly unpredictable golf on a burnt-out links-like course, it seemed entirely appropriate that the outcome was in doubt right to the end.
Finishing in joint 150th place out of 156 starters Woods gave his worst performance ever in a Major and highly-fancied Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler was only two strokes better at 14-over-par. But for Spieth there will be only happy memories.
Thirteen years ago at Muirfield Woods's hopes of going where no golfer had gone before was undone by a Saturday 81 in foul weather and like Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus before him the Grand Slam was not to be.
"I'm in shock, but I feel for Dustin," said Spieth. "It's cool to be able to have two legs of the Grand Slam now and to conquer the US Open is conquering the hardest lay-out in all of golf.
"I didn't have my best ball-striking at all and really grinded over those four or five-footers - that was the difference."
Johnson said: "I did everything I was supposed to do. I hit the ball really well. I just really struggled getting it in the hole. I didn't think I was hitting bad putts, they just weren't going in."
He led by two with nine holes to play, but then bogeyed the 10th, 11th and 13th and when Spieth added a 26-foot putt on the 16th to his birdie at the equally driveable 12th he suddenly found himself three clear.
It would have surprised nobody if the sport's newest superstar had calmly strode to victory from that position. Instead, however, he blocked a shocking iron into thick rough on the short 17th and double-bogeyed to fall back into a tie with the already-finished Louis Oosthuizen and then with Johnson again when he birdied the same hole in the final group.
So it was all down to the last, where Spieth's 284-yard approach curled round the slope at the back of the green and settled 15 feet from the flag. His eagle putt stayed out but after making birdie for a round of 69 and five-under-par aggregate of 275 he had to wait to see what happened.
Johnson's three-putt par meant he had to settle for second place with Oosthuizen, home in a dazzling 29 and now so looking forward to returning to the scene of his 2010 Open win.
For a while it looked as though Rory McIlroy would be setting the clubhouse target. But from six-under-par for the day after 13 holes and only two behind, the world number one slipped back to joint ninth with fellow Irishman Shane Lowry and Australian Jason Day, who despite dropping out of the lead with a closing 74 still did remarkably well given that he collapsed with vertigo late in the second round and battled with it all weekend.