The players in the U.S. Open did not go quietly into the sunset on Puget Sound at Chambers Bay. Some torched it and its dying greens, and none more so than Billy Horschel.
The former PGA Tour FedEx Cup champion stepped up to the podium after his round of three-under-par 67 and said he'd been waiting all week to blow up about what he perceived was an unfair setup, particularly on the putting surfaces. He joked that he'd talk for an hour if reporters wanted him to.
"I think a lot of players, and I'm one of them, have lost some respect for the USGA and this championship this year for the greens," Horschel said.
"[USGA Executive Director] Mike Davis can push back as much as he wants, but when you have a majority of the players commenting publicly, and some of them aren't because they don't want to get the pushback from it, then there's an issue. There's obviously an issue with these greens, and I don't know if he's just trying to sugarcoat it so it doesn't look bad. I heard someone say that the TV is making the greens look worse than they are. That's a complete lie."
Horschel said a Fox anchor asked a caddie earlier in the week if there was grass on the greens. The reply, he said, "Yeah, two blades, and they're nowhere close to each other."
Ernie Els said on Sunday of the greens, "They're basically not living anymore."
The criticism at Chambers has gone beyond the greens. Horschel said the fans were "robbed" of a good viewing experience because of the inaccessibility to holes. Phil Mickelson said earlier in the week that his wife, Amy, gave up trying to follow him.
"To say they built this golf course for the U.S. Open is awful," he said. "And I heard Mike Davis had input into this golf course. That blows my mind that they would build a golf course and not think about the fans and the viewing aspect of it, because that's the greatest thing we have."
Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy acknowledged the difficulty for the fans, but defended the greens, saying, "I think people who are struggling with their putting really have trouble on the bad greens, and the good putters just get on with it. I think there's a lot about [Chambers] that makes it a really good venue."
Out with a whimper
Mickelson closed with a three-over 73 to finish at 13 over.
After opening with a promising 69, the five-time major winner shot 74-77-73.
Mickelson looked more than ready to be done after his struggles at the finishing hole, which was playing as a par five. His third shot bounced just a yard into the deep fescue behind the green, and when Mickelson attempted a flop shot, his club sliced under the ball and didn't move. Mickelson stared down in disbelief and swung again, getting on the green and two-putting for a double-bogey seven.
Despite doing more extra preparation than most for Chambers Bay, Mickelson, 45, was denied an Open win for the 25th time.
Adam Scott shot the course record with a six-under 64. The Aussie, who tied for fourth, didn't make a bogey and birdied two of the last three … Still battling vertigo, Jason Day shot 74 and tied for ninth after beginning the round tied for the lead … USC alum Jamie Lovemark shot 70 and finished tied for 18th in his first U.S. Open … World No. 1 Rory McIlroy made a 72-foot eagle putt on his 13th hole, but stalled with two bogeys in the final four holes to shoot 66 and tie for ninth at even. … Chris Kirk took a 10 on the first hole, needing five shots to get on the green after his ball kept rolling back to him. … Irvine's Brian Campbell, who shot 68, was the low amateur at five over.