Starring after struggling, Jordan Spieth wins the 146th British Open in remarkable fashion.
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND» During one of Jordan Spieth’s many low points Sunday at the 146th British Open, his caddie reminded him of a photo from a Mexico beach holiday two weeks ago that showed him in all-star company that included Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan. The message: “You belong in that group.”
Spieth left little doubt with a closing performance that ranks among the greatest finishes in golf’s major championship history.
Trailing for the first time all weekend at Royal Birkdale — and lucky it was only one stroke, thanks to a shot from the driving range — the 23-yearold Texan followed with a birdieeagle-birdie-birdie stretch that allowed him to close with a 1-under-par 69 and win the British Open by three shots over Matt Kuchar.
Spieth captured the third leg of the career Grand Slam and heads to the PGA Championship next month with a chance to be the youngest to win them all.
“This is as much of a high as I’ve ever experienced in my golfing life,” Spieth said. And it all started in a spot so dire, it looked as though he would endure another major meltdown.
The break of the tournament — and a moment that will rate alongside Seve Ballesteros making a birdie from the car park when he won at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1979 — was when Spieth discovered the driving range was part of the course.
His tee shot was so far to the right on the par-4 13th hole that it sailed 75 yards from the fairway and settled in thick grass on a dune so steep he could hardly stand up, let alone take a swing. The only smart option was to take a oneshot penalty for an unplayable lie.
And that’s when Spieth showed his golfing brain is as valuable as any club in his bag. He asked if the driving range was out of bounds. It wasn’t, which allowed him to go back in a straight line from the flag until he was on the range among the equipment trucks. After getting free relief from them, he still faced a blind shot over the dunes to a hole littered by pot bunkers. He hit 3-iron just short of a bunker near the green, pitched over it to about 7 feet and made what he considers the most important putt of the day to escape with a bogey.
Spieth hit a 6-iron to the 14th that landed in front of the flag and came within inches of an ace, leading to a short birdie putt to regain the lead. On the par-5 15th, he rolled in a 50foot eagle putt. And he wasn’t done.
He rolled in a 30-foot putt across the 16th green for a two-shot lead, and he kept that margin with a 7-foot putt to match birdies with Kuchar.
Spieth and Jack Nicklaus are the only players to win three different majors before turning 24.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Spieth said, gazing at his name on the silver Claret Jug. “Absolutely a dream come true.”
Jordan Spieth, who turns 24 on Thursday, kisses the Claret Jug after winning the British Open. Spieth and Jack Nicklaus are the only players to win three different majors before turning 24.