In his mind, Jordan Spieth had waged a valiant fight against a penal colony of a golf course, against heavy self-imposed pressure to win the U.S. Open, and still he had come up empty. Somehow he had double-bogeyed the 17th at Chambers Bay, and so the birdie at the 72nd hole would prove irrelevant with Dustin Johnson about to win on an eagle try from 13 feet.
Spieth was behind closed doors in the scoring area, locked away with the local caddie, Michael Greller, who had gotten married at this place. The Masters champion told Greller that Johnson would be the one to propose a champagne toast at the club Sunday night, that the best athlete on tour, a guy who looks and moves like an NBA small forward, was about to dunk their Grand Slam dream in the cool waters of Puget Sound.
"What did I do?" Spieth asked the caddie of the comfortable 3-shot lead he'd carried away from the 16th green. "How did I possibly let this happen?"
Greller knew that bat-spit crazy things happen all the time in golf, and that players far more accomplished than Johnson, a slugger who had never won a major, made ungodly messes of easier opportunities than the one confronting Wayne Gretzky's future son-in-law at that very moment. And sure enough, on cue, Johnson ran his eagle putt 4 feet past the cup, and then Scott Hoch-ed the comebacker that would've landed him in an 18-hole playoff.
Spieth and Greller didn't know what to say or how to act. The caddie finally rose from his chair and said, "Dude, give me a hug. You did it." And that was that. Jordan Alexander Spieth, 21, had become the youngest player to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year, the sport's youngest national champ since Bobby Jones in 1923, and the youngest man to win a second major since Gene Sarazen in 1922.
Outside the scoring trailer, listening on their miniature radio devices, the Spieth family couldn't believe their ears. Jordan's brother, Steven, a basketball player at Brown University, thought for sure Johnson would knock down the eagle putt for the outright victory, or at least force the Spieths to return Monday for one more draining duel in the sun.
"It's never a good thing to root against anyone," Steven said, "but we were asking ourselves if it's OK to cheer if Dustin misses his second putt."
Dustin missed his second putt.
"And then instinct took over," Steven said, "and we let out a yelp."
The brother and the parents, Shawn and Chris, were allowed their emotional response to a stunning miss that inspired this historic development. Chris Spieth said she felt like crying after her son followed his remarkable birdie putt at the 16th with his meltdown at 17, and that the seconds before Johnson's second putt at 18, waiting for the crowd reaction to tell the family what had gone down before the radio announcers could, "felt like 10 months."
Yes, it was worth the wait. Spieth didn't merely join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Craig Wood as the only men to follow a victory at Augusta National with one at the next U.S. Open. He also showed millions of viewers why he is good enough to become the first player ever to win the calendar year Grand Slam in the Masters era.