Matthew Wolff made this promise after the U.S. Open

Matthew Wolff

Matthew Wolff hits his tee shot on the 9th hole at Winged Foot Golf Club on Sunday.

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Matthew Wolff bogeyed the 3rd hole. Then the 5th. Then the 8th. Through eight holes at Winged Foot Golf Club on Sunday, he was seven shots worse than he was just a day earlier. His lead at the U.S. Open was gone. 

Wolff hit his drive on the par-5 9th 388 yards down the right side of the fairway. He hit his second shot about 10 feet from the hole. Then he made eagle — a minute after the player who had wrested the lead from him, Bryson DeChambeau, had rolled in an eagle putt of his own. 

DeChambeau would go on to win. But Wolff would not lose it.

“I played really tough all week,” said Wolff, who shot a final-round five-over 75 and finished at even-par and six shots back. “I battled hard. Things just didn’t go my way. But first U.S. Open, second place is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for. I’m just excited to learn from this experience, and it’s definitely not the last time that I’m going to be in this spot.”

Wolff started Sunday one round removed from a record. 

His third-round five-under 65, which included a five-under 30 front nine, tied the record-low round for a U.S. Open at Winged Foot (set by Justin Thomas in the first round). He slept on a two-shot 54-hole lead at his first U.S. Open, and just his second major overall.     

Five minutes before his tee time on Sunday, Wolff was talking on his cellphone on the range. He hit his first drive 302 yards down the middle — one day after hitting just 2 of 14 fairways total. He was good to go. 

“I really didn’t feel that nervous out there,” Wolff said. “Maybe at the start I did, but at the start, I played pretty well. I don’t think it was nerves that were holding me back. I just think it wasn’t meant to be. It’s the U.S. Open. There’s a lot of breaks out there that probably could have — a foot or a couple inches more, and I have a different lie, or it stays up on a ridge or things like that, are three, four shots. 

“If I’m that much closer to Bryson coming down the stretch, I’m sure he feels a little bit more pressure. He played really well. I was just told that there’s a lot of people in here saying what he’s doing is pretty exceptional. To watch it firsthand, I have to agree. I feel like I played really well, and that’s the difference out here between four over and four under is just those little tiny breaks that I didn’t get.”

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Wolff lost his two-stroke lead over an early three-hole stretch.

He bogeyed the 247-yard, par-3 3rd after hooking his tee shot well left and failing to get up and down. Wolff’s lead was one. DeChambeau birdied the 457-yard par-4 4th hole on a 13-foot putt. Wolff’s lead was none. Wolff bogeyed the 514-yard par-4 5th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker. Wolff’s lead was DeChambeau’s. 

After his eagle, his tee shot on the par-3 10th headed toward the greenside bunker, but it would not fall in. The ball was nearly hip high for his second shot, and he could not pitch it close. A bad-break bogey. On the 444-yard par-4 14th, his approach hit the green’s false front and trickled back. He could not pitch it close again. Another bad-break bogey. He would also double-bogey the 508-yard par-4 16th.  

Wolff said “it just wasn’t meant to be.”

“I think the biggest thing I’m going to take from it is just I have to stay really patient because there’s a lot of times out there that I kind of hung my head, and that could have been the difference between two, three shots,” said Wolff, the only player besides DeChambeau not to shoot above par for the tournament. “Then at the end of the week, like I said, if I’m two, three shots closer to Bryson coming down the stretch, it’s just a different story. It’s the longest week of golf that I’ve ever played, and something that I’m going to know for the future, and next time I play, I’ll just know that it’s going to be a really long week and a marathon, and I just have to keep my head high.”

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor