By E. Michael Johnson
If the U.S. Open is the most complete examination in golf, then a requirement to passing that test is a particularly proficient week on the greens. No careless three-putts and holing clutch makes for par will set up a chance at a historic week. Given those truths, we take a look at the past five U.S. Open winners, and the putters they used in winning the national championship.
2013: Justin Rose, TaylorMade Spider Blade
Justin Rose’s game was clicking in 2013, but the putter seemed to be the missing piece. After initially changing to a 34-inch TaylorMade Spider Blade putter at the Players Championship, Rose switched at the Memorial to a counterbalanced Spider Blade that was three inches longer (37 inches in length) with a Ghost, tour-only black steel shaft and a short-slant hosel. Rose said the combination of the added length and hosel allowed him to stand in a taller position that resulted in a free release of the putter head. Rose’s major breakthrough at Merion Golf Club was helped by a T-11 rank in putts per green in regulation at the U.S. Open.
2014: Martin Kaymer, Ping Karsten Anser 2
Talk about a money club—and one that retailed for just $90. Martin Kaymer’s Ping Karsten Anser 2 might have had a small price tag, but it is rich with quite a few memories. Kaymer has used the putter to clinch the Ryder Cup, win $1.8 million by winning the Players and won two majors with it at the 2010 PGA and 2014 U.S. Open. As for the club itself, it is fairly standard, measuring 35.5 inches with three degrees of loft. But there was nothing typical about the way he used it at Pinehurst No. 2. Call it a solid return on investment.
2015: Jordan Spieth, Scotty Cameron by Titleist SC-009
Jordan Spieth’s Scotty Cameron by Titleist SC-009 prototype putter—a model Spieth has used since he was 15 years old because Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy used the same model—deserves a serious tip of the cap. Spieth’s crucial birdie putt on the 16th hole gave him the cushion that afforded him room to make a double bogey on 17 at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Spieth is fond of the club he has used since he was a teenager, saying at the 2016 Valspar: “It’s got character. I love the way it looks. It’s gone from a triple black finish to now just naturally being rusted. It’s got a little nick on the top. It’s just got character. … It Looks good to me when I set it down. It just looks very, very clean, the lines and it’s a very solid putter. It’s not very soft. I like that, I like being able to feel in my hands kind of the strike of the ball instead of just feeling like you’re gliding through air. Some people like a softer finish. The weighting is just distributed nicely for me. So, when putts go in anything looks good but it’s a great putter.”
2016: Dustin Johnson, Scotty Cameron by Titleist prototype
Although most people associate TaylorMade’s Spider Tour mallet with being Dustin Johnson’s putter, it was actually a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Tour Rat blade that D.J. used to win the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Unfortunately for Johnson, most of the focus on this putter that Sunday came as a result of the controversy over whether he did or did not cause his ball to move on the fifth hole during Sunday’s final round. The putter received a lot of close-ups on television, but it overshadowed that he used the club effectively all week in his win.
2017: Brooks Koepka, Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 SLT T10
When Nike exited the equipment business in August of 2016, one of the first clubs to change in Brooks Koepka’s bag was a switch back to the Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 SLT T10 putter he had used to win his first PGA Tour title at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Koepka made the move during the 2016 FedEx Cup playoffs and the putter, which boasts a T10 Terylium insert and has BK stamped on the front toe, helped Koepka tie Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open scoring record of 16-under par.