Date: June 19, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes, Oakmont

Words not enough for shattered Price

Memo to Aron Price’s mates: delay your upbeat US Open commiserations, maybe even for a while.

Price, 34, was “absolutely devasted” when three bogeys in his closing five holes forced him two shots on the wrong side of the cut line and crashing out of his second major championship at the first hurdle.

In his inimitable, self-effacing manner, the Sydneysider was asked just one word – “Gutted?” – in his post-round presser before responding with a three-minute response that was more “inner voice” than something fit for publication.

Not that it was crass; far from it – Price is a well-spoken, articulate professional who knows the workings of unscrupulous media types.

It was an incredibly raw insight into the mind of a player in the first, painful throes of contemplating the next phase of his life because – in his mind in those few minutes at least – his final chance at big-time golf had slipped through his disbelieving fingers.

The only constant in the monologue was the use of the word “frustrating”. Other than that, it’s almost too difficult to paraphrase the pain and box up so many quotes in one neat story.

“It’s the second time (I’ve missed the cut at a major). I am gutted, really,” Price began after a bogey on the last hole consigned him to a 72 and eight-over-par finish, two outside.

“I was quietly confident coming in here … and felt it wasn’t that hard, to be honest.

“This was a good opportunity to make the final two days and shoot a couple of decent rounds around par and you can move all the way up, then all of a sudden you’re recognised and try to get in a few more events.

“I learnt a lot in my first one (major championship, the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst) and … this time I had my head around it.

“Once you do that, it’s the same as playing at Cronulla or New South Wales Open or Australian Open. It’s just 18 tees, fairways and greens, it’s all the same once you have your head wrapped around it.

“That’s why you see guys to take years to transition from one level to the next, and I felt like I did this whole week.

“I didn’t sit on the range and talk to guys, I hit on the range next to (dual champion) Ernie (Els) for an hour and didn’t even watch him hit a shot because I didn’t care.

“I really felt like I had a chance.

“I had a shocker to start with (double-bogey on the 10th today),  then played really well for a while.

“Just too many unforced errors – yesterday was a joke.

“I should have just taken my medicine on the (10th hole), then I started playing really well.

“I just felt really comfortable.

“I did not feel tight, aimed a bit right on the fifth looking for a little draw and I pushed the —- out of it and was dead there (in the right bunker).

“Then seven is a hard hole and hit it in the rough, but I had a good lie over there and …

“I had as good an opportunity as anyone, other than probably Dustin Johnson, after my tee shots and to not finish in the top 60 is very disappointing.

“It’s just so frustrating to know that after being +8 through 19 holes that I got it back to +5 and typically, in my career, once I get under a cut, I can hold it there.

“Obviously this is not your typical course … but I’m just gutted because I’ve got nowhere else to play, really.

“It’s meaningless now, but it would have been good to hit that fairway and … just give myself a chance.

“And I felt like I had a chance because I was playing so well … and I was … anyway …”

Price’s voice trailed off, finally.

His rational thoughts perhaps taking control over the raw wounds his mind was clearly eager to patch up.

That he is so impeccably honest and trusting is an absolute credit to Price and his family.

The game he brought to Oakmont this week deserves a stage on which to shine.

Aussie golf fans can now only hope that “raw Pricey” doesn’t drown out “rational Pricey” on a long-term basis because that would be an incredible waste of a prodigious talent.

It’s just the searing mental pain he was enduring in that minute makes that conundrum unanswerable right now.

But the last thing Price wants is sympathy.

“That’s the thing. Everyone will tell me I did really well … I don’t need to hear any of that right now,” he said.

“I just didn’t when I needed to. It’s that simple.”