13 July, 2016 (Pasadena) I’ll say it, I felt sorry for the guy after the 2010 season. First, there was the 3 stroke, 54 hole lead at the US Open (Pebble Beach). A three stroke lead at the US Open for a guy who had only held a tour card for 3 years. How could we forget it? Hooked drives, chunked chips, ugh! Only Rory’s debacle at Augusta and Van de Velde’s Carnoustie 72nd hole collapse rival. Maybe not. Everyone who has played the game at a competitive level whether it is a $2 skins game or a club championship KNOWS this pain. Hell, I was 10 shots up with 12 to go at Crail Links (Scotland) and lost by one! We know it, we feel it, we lament it because we play the game. The 2010 US Open hurt because we could all relate to succumbing to the whims of the golf goddesses and gods. And then there was the “bunker” club grounding just a few months later at the PGA held at Whistling Straights. 2 months later! Lightning striking twice in one golf season.Damn that ruling and damn this crazy game. A bogey translated into a triple and DJ missed the the playoff that Martin Kaymer eventually won over Bubba Watson. The lethal, whispered ruling in the scoring tent, the glazed ambivalent look in DJ’s eyes. Unbelievable. This player, his length, his composure would surely change the game. But in that infamous 2010 season he was already in the hole, 0-2. Fast-forward 4 years to the 2015 US Open hosted at that green roller coaster called Chambers Bay. Going toe-to-toe, shot for shot with the golf media’s proclaimed “next Tiger Woods,” Jordan Spieth. DJ floated a hell of a second shot that left him just above and left of the 72nd hole. A birdie putt that would right the ship of 2010 and earn DJ his first major victory. But he was above the hole on a slick green and his 3rd rolled a testy 3-4 feet beyond the hole. He missed it. He missed the par putt and lost by one to Spieth. Heart-breaking, cruel…we all winced. DJ strolled off the green with little outward reaction and beautiful child in arms. Major strike 3. How could the game be so cruel to an individual who had battled both golf and personal demons in his life? Why did the Fates align in such a manner? What I find most remarkable is the chutzpah of this guy to put himself in contention AGAIN in the 2016 US Open at Oakmont. You’ve won millions on tour, you have a beautiful family (shout out to Paulina). What are you thinking here? How many times do you need your golf heart broken? Darn you DJ, now I’m hooked. I watched every hole you played that weekend waiting for the train wreck. And there it came! The BS ruling of ball movement after address on the 5th green. But hold on…initial ruling was no penalty incurred. Bullet dodge,perhaps not. Ruling official on 13th tee says the initial ruling would be reviewed. What? Who’s winning now? What’s the official score? Is he 1 up or 2 up? Nightmare again! But this cool hombre beaming with chutzpah would have none of it. He played his ass off and won the US frickin’ Open, ruling be damned either way. His major history record would not be the context for this ending. He WON it and I am damn happy for him. That may be one of the greatest individual back 9 (really last 6) holes played in a major championship. Ghost of golfing past, rules officials over ruling. He won it. Good for you DJ and good for us. One of the most gutsy major performances I have seen in some time. Thank you.
Next up: THE Open