Garrigus Drops a Bomb on 18 to Tie for Third and Low-Am(erican) Honors
By Stephanie Wei under US Open

Hell yeah!

Robert Garrigus rolled in a clutch 20-footer to save par on the 72nd hole. It was awesome. His celebration and the reception from the crowd were even more awesome. (I had a case of being at the right place, right time on Sunday — while McIlroy and Yang waited on the 18th tee, I rushed down to 18 green for prime-time seating.)

While many players are lengthening their putters these days, Garrigus hunches over a 28 1/2-inch, toy-like putter, which is even too short for me. Who cares how silly you look as long as you’re making noise, though?

Despite starting “like a dog,” shooting three-over on the front nine, Garrigus rallied to get back to one-under on the day. By saving par on the 72nd hole, he finished at six-under for the tournament, just ten shots behind ’11 US Open champion Rory McIlroy, and instead of placing fourth, he tied for third with fellow American Kevin Chappell.

Of all the Americans in the field at the 111th US Open, raise your hand if you guessed Garrigus and Chappell would represent the USA as the top finishers? It doesn’t count if you’re related to either of them. This isn’t to take away from either player. It’s more of an observation on the state of American golf. I’m not going to lose a moment of sleep over it, but Americans have gone quite some time without a major win. Five, to be precise.

Meanwhile, back to Garrigus’ electrifying putt. “What the hell, it was awesome,” he said. “That was a lot of fun. I sucked it up and got it done on the back side. It felt great.”

Even better than getting high.

“You know, it’s so cool to have that many people rooting for you,” said Garrigus after firing a one-under 70 on Sunday. “Like I said yesterday, it’s better than any drug you could ever take. You can’t buy it, you can’t bottle it, and man, it was a lot of fun today. Gosh, I’ll never forget this day for the rest of my life. It was a lot of fun.”

Garrigus kicked a drug addiction in 2003 after a stint in rehab.

While he didn’t have the same historical US Open that McIlroy did, it sounds like it may have been just as memorable for him, punctuated by that last putt.

“It gave me goosebumps for sure,” he said. “That was one of the things I will never forget. Besides it being Father’s Day and to have my son there afterwards and everything, this is a pretty special day. And to make that putt, I get into Augusta. That’s probably one of the coolest things I’ll ever get to say is I am playing at Augusta next year.”

And well, here’s just another example of why I love the gregarious Garrigus.

“I’d have asked them what they were smoking, definitely,” he said when asked his response if someone had told him he’d shoot six-under and still be 10 strokes off the lead. “It’s unbelievable. I shot under par every day, and if you had told me I was going to do that, I might have slapped you in the face. I just didn’t understand the scores.”

Don’t expect the setup at next year’s US Open at Olympic to be quite so generous.

“I don’t think the USGA is letting anybody know how upset they were about how the scores were going,” said Garrigus. “Next year at Olympic, I think the winning score is probably going to be about 8-over. I don’t think anybody is going to shoot under par next year, and rightfully so, it’s a U.S. Open.

“The weather got a little rainy for us and that’s unfortunate. But, man, it was great to go out and make some birdies and put on a show for the crowd, and that’s what we do. That’s awesome.”

(Photo by Kyle Auclair/insidetheropes.com)