After watching what Dustin Johnson did on the final hole of the U.S. Open on Sunday – three-putting from 12 feet to finish runner-up to Jordan Spieth – we’re left looking for labels.
Bad luck? Blunder? Choke?
“I would say he choked,” Yahoo! Sports golf writer Jay Busbee said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I put it in my headline, and I got destroyed by people for it. I don’t like to use the word choke because look, we don’t do what these guys do. We don’t understand it. But that said, this is a situation where . . . according to the PGA Tour, players from 12 feet out three-putt one percent of the time. If anything is ever going to be described as a choke, that seems like what it would be.”
Johnson’s collapse, if you want to call it that, has marginalized Spieth a bit, at least temporarily. But after watching the 21-year-old win back-to-back majors, the question must be asked: Is he the next Tiger Woods?
“You could not have bred in a lab a more perfect guy to take golf into the next generation for American golfers,” Busbee said. “He looks like the kind of All-American kid that golf seems to love. He’s well-mannered. He calls people sir and ma’am. He does all that the right way. With Tiger in terms of talent, I don’t think we’re going to see that again for a long time. But then again, Spieth has put his name right there in the record books alongside Tiger. So yeah, everything is setting up well for him, but there’s always a temptation to go and honor somebody before they necessarily deserve it. So I think people (might) be a little bit hesitant to do that.”
Spieth will have an opportunity to win his third consecutive major at the Open Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland, the week of July 16. On the one hand, it’s a preposterous ask for Spieth to win a third straight major. On the other hand, the possibility is out there, and we cannot – and should not – downplay what’s at stake.
How do we slow the hype machine over the next several weeks?
“I think the only way to stop the hype is to turn off your phone and turn off your computer,” Busbee said. “It’s rolling. There’s no way around it. Golf loves this stuff. Golf is a sport built on superstars. It’s been that way. That’s why golf broke big in the 60s. It was Arnold Palmer and then later Jack Nicklaus. Golf loves to have that one or two superstars to look up to. And in the wake of Tiger, Rory McIlroy – who is doing it for the rest of the world – really wasn’t doing it for America. Spieth is the kind of golfer that can be that replacement superstar, that next generation superstar for America, if you will. So yeah, the idea of him going over to Scotland and taking the oldest tournament in golf, that’s going to be too much for a lot of people to resist hype-wise.”