U.S. Open: Scottie Scheffler earns top amateur honors

By
Ron Borges
Boston Herald

Series: News Feature

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 | 8:58 a.m.

ERIN, Wis. -- Like Charles Dickens, Scottie Scheffler had great expectations this week. He didn't achieve them but he still played the 117th U.S. Open like a dream.

Scheffler not only made the cut, he passed Cameron Champ to finish as the low amateur with a 1-under 287. Scheffler and Champ are Texas rivals, the former playing at Texas and the latter for Texas A&M, and it was the latter who seemed most likely to at least win the amateur flight of the Open after opening the day inside the top 10. But, in the end, it was Scheffler who won out after Champ shot a 4-over 76 yesterday to fall back to even par for the tournament.

"The expectations I brought in here, I was trying to compete and see if I could win the golf tournament," Scheffler said. "I think it would be pretty cool winning the U.S. Open as an amateur. That was my goal coming in."

U.S. Open: Final Scores from Erin Hills | Watch Kopeka's 41-foot putt | Photos

Since no one has done that since 1934, it was a long shot at best. When Sunday morning began, so did finishing as low amateur. But by the end he'd lived a dream. A modified one perhaps, but a dream all the same.

"Being an amateur in the U.S. Open is very cool," Scheffler said. "It's a great experience and being able to be the top amateur, to be a part of that list as well, definitely is special."

Stricker mulls Salem

Steve Stricker is 50 years old and thus eligible to play in the Senior Open at Salem Country Club only two weeks after finishing in a tie for 16th place here. He shot back-to-back 69s over the weekend to finish 5-under for the tournament.

Might he be there?

"I'm not sure I'm going to go," Stricker said yesterday after his second straight 69 had the gallery roaring for the local guy from up the road in Madison. "I'm kind of focusing more on out here, I think, at the time being. Being the Presidents Cup captain, I want to make sure I'll be around. I may add another event somewhere down the line, but I think I'm going to need a couple of weeks off and then adjust from there. But I don't know if I'm going to go to the U.S. Senior Open."

MORE: U.S. Open honors Arnold Palmer on 18th hole

What he did know was his 5-under normally would have brought him more than polite applause at 18. It would have brought him a major championship.

"Minus-5 doesn't mean anything," Stricker said. "At the start of the week I was thinking 5-under would maybe win this thing. I was pretty far off. I don't know if I have 14-under in my bag to play. These guys play a different game. A 3-wood 300 yards (Saturday) for Justin Thomas. I don't hit my driver 300 yards.

"These guys have a lot of firepower. This is the new age of golf. They bomb it. If they hit it crooked, they'll bomb it again. They've got no fear and they're gutsy players, and they're little bulldogs and they're just relentless and this course allows them to do that. Wide fairways, so they can let it rip. Its fun to watch, but it's not a typical U.S. Open."

For Spieth, Conn. up next

Even though he was in no position to contend in the final round, teeing off well before the leaders had arrived at the practice range, Jordan Spieth still was feeling pressure but it was of a different sort. It came from his 16-year-old sister Ellie.

Ellie Spieth, who has a still-undiagnosed neurological disorder that left her developmentally challenged, is the light of Spieth's life and the one he says is funniest of all his siblings. When he asked her Saturday night what she'd like him to do in the final round of the Open she thought it over before saying "16 birdies."

Spieth laughed but he birdied No. 1 and told caddy Michael Greller, "Fifteen more." Then he birdied 2. The string stopped there however and when he made par on the next three holes, his final "quest" at this 117th U.S. Open was over.

Spieth finished 3-under for the day in windy conditions and 1-over for the tournament, a poor showing but you'd never know it as Spieth related that story wearing a big grin.

Spieth will be in a packed field this weekend that will also include Rory McIlroy and Jason Day at the Travelers in Cromwell, Conn., a decision nearly as spur of the moment as his sister's birdie request.

"I'm playing next week," Spieth said. "Then I'm not really sure what my plans are into the Open Championship. I really don't know right now other than next week. I didn't even know about next week until a week ago so taking it step-by-step this time of year, trying to see where our fatigue level is and how we can make sure we close strong."

One way to do that, Spieth said, is to get back the putting stroke that most feel is the best on Tour when he's on his game.

"My confidence is probably a B right now," Spieth said. "It gets to an A, A-plus with the putter. I feel really good about just about everything else. I've just got to get on the greens and have that cup start to look a bit bigger."

This article is written by Ron Borges from Boston Herald and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.