Verlander on the U.S. Open: 'What a debacle'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Justin Verlander

Detroit — Justin Verlander loves his golf.

No surprise, then, that he was able to catch the final round of the U.S. Open, following the Tigers' series finale in Kansas City on Sunday.

"What a debacle," Verlander said Monday.

Gee, tell us how you really feel, Johnny Miller.

"Thank God," Verlander added, noting Dustin Johnson won by more than the one-shot penalty he was told on the fifth hole he wasn't going to get, then told seven holes later he probably was going to be assessed. "That'd have been a real mess for the USGA."

Verlander actually has twice played Oakmont Country Club, site of this year's U.S. Open, including once earlier this year.

He was thrilled to report this year, he shot a 75 there.

Not that course most notably, the greens — was tricked up for him like it was for the 150 players in the field last week.

"They weren't that fast," Verlander said, with a smile.

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And the rough — some of the thickest the pros haven't seen — wasn't that long. Still, 75 is 75 at a course many considered one of the toughest in the U.S. Open rotation.

Verlander has played all over the country, and the world, even playing in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am alongside Tour golfers (he doesn't know Johnson).

Oakmont is a beast, he agrees, but seems to suit his eye, given it has so few trees — and even when it did have more trees when he played it three years ago, they were more for aesthetics, not in his way.

It's the bunkers, especially the church pews, that are so penal at Oakmont.

"When I miss, I really miss big," Verlander said. "I tend to double-cross. So the church pews, I was actually on the other side of them in the other fairway, so I had a good look in."

Johnson won his first major championship Sunday, after three-putting from 10 feet to cost himself the U.S. Open a year ago. He closed strong Sunday, especially with a birdie on No. 18, to make the late-awarded penalty stroke — for a ball that barely moved on the green on No. 5, without his putter even behind the ball — a moot point.