CROMWELL, Conn. — Jordan Spieth already was frustrated by missing the U.S. Open cut by 1 shot.
Seeing what happened Saturday, when scores ballooned at Shinnecock Hills in the afternoon and allowed players well back at the start of the day to move into contention, only made it worse.
After opening with an 8-over 78, Spieth made a big move late in the second round to put himself in position to play the weekend. He rattled off four consecutive birdies beginning at the 13th hole to move inside the cut line. But he bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes to finish at 9 over to fall 1 shot short.
“I knew that if I squeaked by the cut line, seeing the scores, I was even more frustrated with my finish,” Spieth said Tuesday in advance of the Travelers Championship, a tournament he won a year ago in a playoff with a memorable hole-out from the greenside bunker at the 18th hole.
“Coming out early Saturday and shooting something under par — say 3 or 4 under — I would have been in the last couple groups and had a chance to win the U.S. Open. That was a bummer, for sure.”
Through two rounds, Spieth was 13 shots behind 36-hole leader Dustin Johnson. Still, Saturday proved players could make up a lot of ground. Tony Finau and Daniel Berger, who each made the cut at 7 over, started the third round 11 shots behind Johnson. Both shot 66s early and, by the time Saturday ended, were among a four-way tie for the lead and in the final pairing for Sunday.
While it was the bogeys at the last two holes that ended Spieth’s hopes of playing on the weekend, his first two holes of the tournament were what actually did him in.
Spieth, who started on the 10th hole early Thursday morning, bogeyed his first and then tripled the par-3 11th.
“I wish I started on the front nine the first round,” Spieth said. “I think I would have had a different golf tournament if I [had a late tee time Thursday and early tee time Friday] instead of early-late even though that [early-late] was the harder draw. For me, the first rounds are the key, and [holes No.] 1 and 2, those are a little nicer start than 10 and 11 out there. I just tried to do too much early in the first round, and it hurt me.”
Spieth spent the weekend in New York City before coming to Connecticut on Sunday night to get set for his title defense at the Travelers. He says he did not watch the weekend coverage of the U.S. Open, but he has heard from fellow players all about how difficult Shinnecock got on Saturday, when the scoring average was 75.3, a full 3 shots higher than it was on Sunday.
“I thought they were the slowest U.S. Open greens I’d ever putted on the first two days,” Spieth said. “I was amazed at how quickly they could get dicey. You don’t normally see a turnaround in morning to afternoon. That’s what, when I talked to other guys, happened. The golf course changed just like that.”