U.S Open: 4 things we learned this week at Oakmont

dustin johnson, us open
USA Today Sports Images
By Matt S. Craig
PGA.com

Published: Sunday, June 19, 2016 | 8:44 p.m.

There are a couple things that we could count on at Oakmont, that proved to be true once again in 2016:

That the course would prove to be a worthy challenge to the world's best players. Check.

That Oakmont would crown a worthy champioin, following in the footsteps of Snead, Hogan, and Nicklaus. Check.

And that there would be plenty of drama throughout the tournament. Check.

Here were the four biggest takeaways:

1. This could be the first of many for Dustin Johnson

Johnson had as many close calls in major championships as anybody.

The 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble beach. The 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. The list goes on. The 2015 U.S. Open. The 2015 Open Championship.

Finally Johnson broke through and brought home a major championship at Oakmont. It was fitting, considering Johnson was clearly the best player all week.

His power was inconceivable, his irons continued to hunt down pins. And in the end, he sunk just enough putts to get some distance from the crowd behind him.

Now that the monkey is off of his back, it's not unreasonable to wonder how many more majors the uber-talented 31 year old can win.

2. Be careful on your pre-putt routine

With the lightning quick speeds of Oakmont's greens, it didn't take a lot to make putts roll. As it turned out for leaders Dustin Johnson and Shane Lowry, that could happen without even trying.

Both Lowry and Johnson were hit with one-shot penalties after their balls unintentionally moved on the greens. Neither ruling proved to be ultimately decisve as Johnson grabbed control in the final few holes.

3. Oakmont lived up to its billing

Early in the week, videos and pictures emerged from players at the practice rounds that made many believe this could be the most difficult U.S. Open course ever.

Then heavy rains on Thursday softened the course considerably, making many pins more accessible to approach shots and producing some lower scores. 

But as the weather improved and the course dried out throughout the weekend, Oakmont lived up to its reputation. Landing areas grew smaller and smaller, and short putts got more and more challenging.

With the margin for error so small, mistakes were magnified under the intense pressure of a U.S. Open Sunday. And ultimately Oakmont proved itself worthy of its status as one of the best golfing venues in the United States.

During the course of the week it was announced that the 2025 U.S. Open would be returning to Oakmont.

4. Survival of the fittest

The lightning and rain that came on Thursday changed the entire trajectory of the 116th U.S. Open.

In an effort to finish with twosomes on Sunday evening, the next three days of action would stretch for more than 12 hours of play each day, a condition that came to define who would be in contention on Sunday.

Playing 36 holes in a day put considerable stress on all of the players, and would be too much for some. Henrik Stenson withdrew with knee and neck issues, and Justin Rose missed the cut coming off of a back injury. Rory, Phil, and Rickie all fell to the same fate.

In the end it was the player who was most physically fit who came away with a victory in Dustin Johnson. 

 

Matt S. Craig is a PGA.com intern and a Digital Sports Production student at Ball State University.