This year’s edition at Oakmont was no different, as only four golfers in the pool of 156 elites finished in red numbers. In a tournament about survival, the following should be especially encouraged by how well they stood in.
1. Dustin Johnson
This one feels too obvious to include, and may even contradict the spirit of this article, which is mostly intended to examine the auxiliary stories that came about during Oakmont’s carnage. However, while Johnson’s breakthrough major victory answers many of the concerns we had about him, it also engenders questions relating to his future, mainly “How many more majors can he win?”. After Phil Mickelson finally got the 0-for-42 monkey off his back at the 2004 Masters, he went on to win two more majors over the next two years. Later, victories at the 2010 Masters and 2013 Open Championship placed Phil at his current tally of five. Now that Dustin Johnson has one, is it fair to expect a similar, or even greater path? At just 32-years-old, there is no reason to predict his game to drop off any time soon. He has won at least one tournament in each of his first nine years on Tour. He is also undeniably gifted physically and athletically, an overwhelming consensus yesterday among his competitors.
Everyone jumping on me for saying DJ best athlete I've seen. Tiger greatest "golfer" ever. DJ could have ran, swam, done anything. "Athlete"
— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) June 20, 2016
The only place DJ was arguably lacking was in the mental game, which was at least somewhat understandable since he had to tee off at each major with the demons of many embarrassingly close calls haunting his subconscious. Now with those demons extinguished (and he even shook off a mid-round rules controversy in this one), the sky could be the limit.
2. Daniel Summerhays
Summerhays, whose second round 65 tied the low round of the tournament (Louis Oosthuizen) had the best finish in the field among sectional qualifiers. Putting troubles were the main culprit of a pair of bookend 74s, but his T8 is easily his best result in four career majors.
3. Andrew Landry
Through three rounds, Landry’s out-of-nowhere success was the most compelling story at Oakmont. The world’s 624th ranked golfer (now #379) was the 18-hole leader in his first major appearance. He went 66-71-70 over the first three rounds, sinking a 46-footer to cap off his round 3 and play himself in the final pairing on Sunday. His final round was Mike Weir playing with Tiger at the ‘99 Open bad, but given his complete lack of experience, it is forgivable. Landry did more to make himself known in this tournament than anyone, and it will be interesting to see how this translates in future events.
4. Scott Piercy
Hardly anyone saw this kind of performance coming from Piercy, but maybe we should have. Going into this event, he had 8 top 25s in 16 events. He is also coming off a breakthrough season where he got his first win, in addition to four other top 10s. Piercy has been struggling with his short game this year, but was 7th in putting at Oakmont, a big part of the reason he was bogey-free through his first 15 holes on Sunday.
The runner up medal at the US Open is pretty cool to earn! What a week! Had fun competing for the big trophy! So close! #Oakmont was a great test and I'm proud i was able to shoot under par for the tournament! Thanks @radargolfpro for all the hard work! Starting to pay off. #HiYa #Usopen #T-2 #bestmajorfinish #positives Thanks to all the friends, family members and fans for your support. It means alot to me! #HiYa
Piercy has a nice runner-up medal to show off.
5. Matteo Manassero
I have mentioned Manassero so many times now, it feels like I have kind of adopted him. A T46 may not sound terribly impressive on the surface, and he never contended in this tournament, but I think this was a very promising result for the former wunderkind, whose game has completely lost him in recent years. He stayed calm, and played the U.S. Open his way: not trying to overpower the course, but hitting fairways and greens. He was T10 in driving accuracy for the week and was above the field average in GIR in all four rounds. A 76 in the first round threatened to send him home early from yet another major, but he rebounded with a second round 70 to make the cut on the number, and was just +4 on the weekend. He is finally trending upward again, and a career resurgence may not be far off.
Could these days be coming back?