Jordan Spieth beat Matt Kuchar by three shootings to win the Open at Royal Birkdale after his recovery from a mishit drive at the 13 th pit re-energised his final round
Whatever else Jordan Spieths career yields and expect it to be plenty there will never be anything as remarkable as this. The 23 -year-old will go to the US PGA Championship in under a months time needing only that title to complete the Grand Slam. If that seems partly logical dedicated Spieths talent and ferocious mental strength, hard facts do a huge disservice to a truly astounding afternoon on Merseyside.
At the end of it all, he became the youngest recipient of the Claret Jug since 1979. It is fitting that the man who prevailed then, Seve Ballesteros, had a inclination to play the central character in a drama. If a scriptwriter had delivered a script for this, the conclusion to the 146 th Open Championship, the odds are it would have been rejected on the grounds of being fanciful.
Spieth is the Open champion who found solace amongst equipment trucks when the watching world wondered what on earth he was doing. He is the player who, from the point of a meltdown which conjured parallels with Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie, pulled himself back from the verge. Jack Nicklaus, a human who knows enough about major victories to have sampled 18 of them, heralded Spieths great showing of intestines, determination and skill.
Majors might not come easy to anyone but Spieth triumphed here in the most bewilder manner possible. No wonder they call him the Golden Child. At periods on Sunday he played so poorly that it seemed impossible he could win. But win he did and win he does; now three times in major tournaments since the start of 2015.
Sympathy is due, and huge chunks of it, for Matt Kuchar. The 39 -year-old has never won a major and is now entitled to question whether he ever will, having watched Spieth defies logic on a first-hand basis. It is perhaps no exaggeration to suggest previously neutral onlookers swayed towards Kuchar as Spieth took part in the 13 th-hole scene that threatened to define the tournament. Instead, it roused Spieth to the level where he was inspired. Psychologists should write thesis on this young man.
On the tee Spieth had his head in his hands on account of a horribly cut drive which landed in deep foliage. This was hardly an isolated incident; Spieth had long since conceded the three-shot lead he enjoyed in the early stages of day four. His play was erratic, his demeanor edgy, his hitherto nerveless putting a weakness. Was Spieth, the man tortured by such a horrible collapse at Augusta National last year, about to do it again?
It took 20 minutes for Spieth to play what was his third shoot to 13. In attempting the best possible distance and lie to find the green, he walked back some 50 yards and on to the scope. Equipment trucks and flags there an added complication to an already extraordinary sight. Spieth utilized the standard rules to his advantage rather than breach any; the great Seve, and Tiger Woods, had plenty of previous for precisely the same.
Spieth escaped with a bogey five, handing Kuchar a one-stroke leading, but the theatre had really only started. The new champ came close to an superstar at the 14 th, holed out for an eagle on the 15 th from 48 ft and converted from only just inside that distance on 16. Spieth had bounced from the ropes to inflict a knockout blow on Kuchar. Even at the penultimate pit Kuchars birdie was immediately offset by the same from Spieth. What had looked the professional breach of Spieth was the build of him in the blink of an eye.
Spieth and Kuchar ultimately traded 69 s, the formers 12 -under aggregate testimony to generally favourable Open conditions. The winning margin was three. Kuchar, one of the most genial individuals in golf, appeared pleased for Spieth when lesser mortals would be of a mind to assault him with a four-iron. If there is a golfing god, Kuchars time will come.
One of many exceptional aspects of Spieths driving-range foray was that Li Haotong was, at the same time, back in the same place preparing for a potential play-off. The Chinese player had recorded a wonderful 63 to move to six under par, a tally that had serious championship potential as Spieth toiled and Kuchar failed to take proper advantage. Lis third-place finish earns him an invite to next years Master as his starring continues to rise.
Rory McIlroy did not seem like he knew what to construction of a share of fourth. The Northern Irishman started this event so poorly that recovery to the point of prominence was a great effort, even more so when recent conflicts are brought into the equation. Nonetheless, McIlroy actually had a decent opportunity of winning here. He should, and will, take confidence towards Quail Hollow and the US PGA.
McIlroys fourth-round 67 meant he sat alongside Rafa Cabrera Bello at five under. The top 10 was completed by the minus four group of Matthew Southgate, Marc Leishman, Alex Noren, Branden Grace and Brooks Koepka.
Ian Poulter signed off with a 70, entailing a affiliation for 14 th. The Englishman did not mince his terms thereafter. Ive had a lousy weekend, he told. Nothing to be happy about or proud about. Im walking away from this tournament feeling extremely disappointed, from a great start. Alfie Plant will look back on Birkdale with considerably more endearing memories, the likeable amateur making a final-round 73 before taking collect of the silver medal.
Hes a fighter, hes shown that the whole way through his short career, McIlroy told of Spieth. Add that description to the list. This sport is so lucky to have him.
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