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Day 4 – US Open Intrigue

The script could not be any better for the final day of the US Open! With four players tied at 4-under, and four players tied at 1-under, it is still anyone’s title to win.

As the players make their way to the first tee, all eyes will be on Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Branden Grace and Jordan Spieth. Three of these players were highly rated to win, but Grace remains the wild card in the last two groups today.

Branden Grace, by all accounts, would be considered a journeyman player on the European Tour. He turned pro in 2007, but has not excelled at any of the Majors. With only one top-25 finish in 12 attempts at previous Majors, it may appear odd that he is in the mix on Sunday at the US Open. Regardless of his pedigree, this South African is there and will experience first-hand, the relentless pressure of vying for his first Major win.

Jason Day is fighting vertigo! This is not a new challenge for him, however, standing up and playing in the last group at the US Open are what movies are made from. Carding a 68 on day three was exceptional by anyone’s standard, and it likely vaulted him to the top of the ‘fan favourite’ list as a potential winner.

At this time, barring a miracle from someone at 1-under, there are two groups to watch: Spieth and Grace in the second to last pairing; Day and Johnson in the last group of the day. If you examine all the factors, this particular setup favours Spieth and Grace. Most of the media will focus on the last pairing and Spieth and Grace have an opportunity to put early pressure on the last group; this scenario will benefit Grace the most. Additionally, Grace’s playing partner, Jordan Spieth, is calm, controlled and not overpowering. Grace can follow Spieth’s champion approach to winning a Major and quietly put pressure on the other three favourites.

The scenario of four players tied on the last day at Chambers Bay should quiet many of the critics. Yes, the course is not really what many players or fans expected. 3 of 4 players are ranked in the top 10 in the world and except for Grace, ranked 40th, were expected to make a run at the US Open Championship. In the last 11 years, only two events resulted in unusually low scores and two events finished at plus 5! I guess these results beg the question “was the current venue fair?”. Or is the real question – “does it really matter?”.

The final round of the US Open is about to start! Four players are in the hunt for this prestigious Major and only one will be standing at the end of 6 hours! This year truly is a “battle of attrition”. Many pundits will be discussing the merits of being in the second last group and the extra pressure they can put on the opponents. It is a great question for debate, but the winner will write determine the answer to that question.

With Phil Mickelson not going to complete his career grand slam this year, everyone is wondering who will take the glorious walk into the winner’s circle: The Underdog, Mr. Vertigo, The Long Hitter, or Mr. Smooth. It is very difficult to pick a winner, but given Jordan Spieth’s record this year, it would be great for golf to see Spieth win so the pundits could speculate on his chances of completing a grand slam in 2015!

The Grateful Golfer / Pundit Arena

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