The U.S. Open marks Justin Spieth’s first major appearance since his April collapse at Augusta, but if you think that performance will weigh heavily on the 22-year-old’s mind this week, well, don’t bet on it.
“When you get knocked down, you got to get back up,” Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The players that get knocked down that can’t get up, they’re the ones that are out of the league or off the PGA Tour. I can go back in my 40 years out here, and everybody from Nicklaus, Palmer and Player – all the way to Tiger and now Jordan Spieth – everybody has wounds. People talk about Jordan’s never going to get over this defeat at Augusta. I disagree. He’ll remember it his whole life, but he’s going to rebound and get over it. That’s what makes a championship player and that’s what makes a champion. So he’s already won. He won at Colonial a couple weeks ago. He’ll never forget (what happened at the Masters), but he’ll get past it.”
Whoever wins the U.S. Open will definitely earn it, especially given Oakmont’s high degree of difficulty. Jacobson, who had top-12 finishes at all four majors in his career, played Oakmont numerous times and routinely finished in the plus-4 to plus-8 range.
“Well, every hole slightly turns from left to right or right to left,” Jacobson said, explaining the course’s difficulty. “You really got to be a creative driver. You’ve got to be able to hit a slight fade or a slight draw off the tee to be able to put the ball on the fairway. That’s the most important thing. No. 2, when you’re in the fairway and you’re playing your approach to the green, a lot of the greens slope from the front to the back. Most traditional greens slope from the back to the front. Here at Oakmont, you can hit a really good shot to the green that’s going to land on the green and run off the back. So you’ve got to be very careful. You need to be a real high-ball hitter with your second shots coming in.
“That’s why I really like a player like Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, who can hit the ball miles in the air,” Jacobson continued. “But then when you get to the green, boy, you’e got so many slopes and undulations on the green that, even having a five-footer, you could have two or three feet of break on what you would think would be a short putt for par, birdie or bogey. So you’re challenged at every turn on this golf course, but it’s fair and it’s fun. That’s really the most determining factor to me with a golf course. Is it difficult? Yes. But is it fair? I would say Oakmont’s as fair as they come.”