After four days of residing on the U.S. Open leaderboard, Joel Dahmen learned a ton about his game and dealing with the intense pressure of contending at a major championship.
The Clarkston native liked what he saw, for the most part. Perhaps even more importantly, he goes forward with added confidence, recharged batteries and a clearer understanding of what it takes to reach the winner’s circle.
Dahmen had two birdies on the front nine and made the turn Sunday with only three names – Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and eventual champion Matt Fitzpatrick – ahead of him in the standings. Dahmen settled for a 1-over 71, a four-day total of even-par 280 and a share of 10th, a placing that comes with an exemption into next year’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.
He was generally pleased but a tad irritated he didn’t take advantage of several opportunities to close the gap on the leaders.
“I can hit it with the best of them. I learned that, especially on a course like this where you have to hit it in the fairway and it’s not overly long,” Dahmen said. “I think I was one of the best ball-strikers over the four days. I always knew I needed to kind of clean up the wedges and the putter if I really wanted to do this, and putter just wasn’t quite there. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t good enough to win, especially with the wedges.
“I kind of impressed myself, I guess, in this situation. I hung in there.”
Dahmen was within four shots of Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick before making bogey on the 527-yard 15th. Dahmen drained a 7-foot par putt on 16 before missing a 10-foot birdie putt on 17. He nearly holed his approach from 156 yards on the finishing hole, but couldn’t connect on the 3½-foot birdie putt.
“I said this multiple times where I’m pretty good at golf,” said Dahmen, a two-time state champion at Clarkston High. “I always believed that, but I probably need to believe a little more. Being in these moments, especially over the weekend, and I handled myself really well. I felt comfortable out there. I really did. I played well. So, you know, just a couple of things here or there.”
The 34-year-old Dahmen continued to do what he does best – hit fairways and greens – to respond from an early bogey on No. 3 with birdies at 5 and 7. He stuffed his approach on the par-4 5th to three feet and drained the putt for his first birdie in 25 holes. His next birdie came two holes later when he ran in a 9-footer to pull within three strokes of the lead.
“I was maybe going through the motions a little bit and now I’m looking forward to teeing it up next week,” Dahmen said of his approach for the rest of the season. “My game is right there the way I’m hitting it. If I can just clean up a couple of things with the putter, and yeah, I’m ready to play now. This is fun.”
He finished tied for first with Fitzpatrick in greens in regulation (72%), tied for third in hitting fairways (71%), but tied for 59th in total putts.
Dahmen has two top 10s in eight career majors after matching his T-10 finish in the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.