Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Johnson wins, Spieth bid ends

SURPRISE A late surge forces three-way playoff, which 39-year-old wins for second Major

- New York Times sportsdesk@hindustant­imes.com

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND: “Zach!” Spieth called, and a few seconds later he wrapped Zach Johnson in a tight embrace. This was supposed to be Spieth’s tournament, Spieth’s week, Spieth’s year. But after a long four rounds over a long five days at the British Open, Johnson’s eyes were the ones that were wet with joyful tears, and there was only one thing left for Spieth to do: He gave Johnson a hug and stepped aside.

It may not have been the ending so many golf fans dreamed about; even Johnson could understand that. Spieth, golf ’s sudden star at 21, came here having won the Masters and the US Open, and the possibilit­y of his claiming the third leg of the Grand Slam was tantalizin­g.

Yet in the end, Spieth came up one shot shy of Johnson, who blistered the ancient links for a 66 to finish at 15 under par before coolly winning a three-man playoff over Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen to claim the second major of his career.

“You know, I never really thought I’d win one,” said Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion. “I’m a little bit in shock.”

Zach Johnson was one of eight players to hold at least a share of the lead in the final round.

Spieth had bogeyed the infa- mous Road Hole, No 17, and drove way left off the 18th tee. That left him at an awkward yardage, and his approach spun back into the hollow short of the green known as the Valley of Sin. His putt rolled up, but was always going wide. Jason Day, from much closer, pitched safely past the hole, but then watched in horror as his birdie putt stopped short.

“I just really want to have that shot at immortalit­y,” Day said.

Instead it was Johnson, Leishman and, finally, Oosthuizen who had that opportunit­y. As Oosthuizen stalked his own birdie putt that would have extended the playoff to sudden death, Johnson stood to the side of the green reciting a Bible verse. Moments later, in the crush of well-wishers, Spieth, 18 years younger than Johnson, told the champion that he was proud of him.

After one final pat on the shoulder, they parted. Johnson, as if in a daze, staggered toward the back of the green to prepare for the trophy ceremony.

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