BROOKLINE, Mass. — The praise has been unanimous.
Those who played in the 2022 U.S. Open this week absolutely loved the challenging layout at The Country Club.
Sure, the fescue made golf balls disappear, the greens were like a funhouse with tips and turns at every inch and the winds, when they were howling, made everything so much more difficult. But that’s what the U.S. Open routinely presents, and the atmosphere, as best depicted on the 18th green Sunday with the final pairing of Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris separated by one stroke, allowed the historic tournament to reach its peak.
“I think it’s one of the best golf courses in the world, and alongside probably the best sports fans in the world,” New England native Keegan Bradley said after carding a 1-under par 279 on the tournament, finishing in a tie for seventh place. “Combine those two, and you get this out here. The Country Club is spectacular. I absolutely loved it.
“It’s my favorite U.S. Open venue I’ve ever played,” Bradley praised. “Any time you get to play a tournament in Boston, it’s electric. The fans are the best.”
It didn’t hurt that the leaderboard featured some of the top golfers in the world entering the final round.
And while Bradley admitted earlier this week that he’s biased of New England’s “crown jewel,” the Hopkinton High School (Mass.) graduate was not the only one who spoke effusively about the course.
“Other than the tiniest chipping green, I thought it was the best place I’ve played in a while,” Collin Morikawa shared after shooting 2-under 278 en route to a tie for fifth. “There’s only been a handful of courses where I really step foot on property, and you see it for a short period of time, and then you think you’re going to love it, and this was one of them. There’s no B.S. around that. It’s a good golf course.
“You really have to plot your way around the course. You’ve got to think through it,” Morikawa continued. “I thought it was a course that you could play pretty well at and a course that could kind of hurt you in the back pretty quickly. I think I got both ends of that, but overall, yeah, I loved it.”
Fitzpatrick claimed the win Sunday after fending off Zalatoris with an approach shot that he called one of the best shots he’s ever hit. Fitzpatrick finished 6-under par 274 while Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler both of shot 5-under 275. Zalatoris missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to allow Fitzpatrick to claim the win.
Fitzpatrick has a good reason to love The Country Club, too. After all, he became the first golfer since Jack Nicklaus to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open at the same course. He won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in 2013.
“I love playing this golf course,” Fitzpatrick said. “It suits me so well. It suits my game well.”
Scheffler noted how he thought the setup of The Country Club was challenging, but fair. The World No. 1 looked to be in position to win his second major championship of the summer with four frontside birdies before adding a pair of backside bogies on the par-4 10th and par-3 11th.
“Nothing unfair, nothing crazy. It was just a good test,” Scheffler said. “Especially a day like today where the wind actually calmed down a little bit. When you’re hitting quality shots, you’re going to get rewarded for them.
“It was a ton of fun,” Scheffler added. “It’s enjoyable to be able to battle against this golf course.”
Entering the week, The Country Club had not hosted a major golf event since the Ryder Cup in 1998. The 2022 U.S. Open marked the fourth time the specific event was held in Brookline, but the first time since 1988.
Those who played at The Country Club this week, as well as those who attended, surely are hoping they don’t have to wait another 30-plus years for it to return.