Monday 24 July 2017

Jordan Spieth: I played better at St Andrews than Chambers Bay but came up short

Jordan Spieth of the U.S. wipes his eye on the 18th green after completing his final round of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course in St. Andrews
Jordan Spieth of the U.S. wipes his eye on the 18th green after completing his final round of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course in St. Andrews

Phil Casey

Jordan Spieth may not be able to win the grand slam this year but the world number two made many doubters believe it is actually possible.

Spieth's bid for the third leg of an unprecedented calendar slam came up agonisingly short in the Open Championship at St Andrews, where he finished just one shot outside the play-off between eventual winner Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.

Five shots were dropped as a result of three-putting in the second round alone, while two more were squandered in a barely believable four-putt on the eighth hole on Monday, prompting Spieth to throw his ball into a gorse bush in disgust.

The 21-year-old Masters and US Open champion played the eighth and 17th in the worst of the periodic wind and rain which struck the Old Course, dropping a shot on the Road Hole after coming up well short of the green with a mis-hit approach.

But the fact that he even had a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to make the play-off was testament to his abilities and made a mockery of concerns over his decision to play the John Deere Classic immediately before the Open.

Spieth went on to win the event in Illinois for the second time in three years by beating Tom Gillis in a play-off, with a certain Zach Johnson just a shot behind.

The world number two can still etch his name into the record books next month by winning the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits to become only the third player - after Ben Hogan in 1953 and Tiger Woods in 2000 - to win three majors in a single season.

And he is already in exalted company given that Arnold Palmer in 1960 and Jack Nicklaus in 1972 both won the Masters and US Open but came up short in the Open. Palmer finished second by a shot to Kel Nagle at St Andrews, while Nicklaus was beaten by the same margin by Lee Trevino at Muirfield.

"I don't know how many guys have done three majors in a year. I'm sure there's only been a few," Spieth said on Monday. "I know Tiger has done it, and I'm sure Jack has (Nicklaus won two majors in a year five times, but never three).

"So that would be the next goal as far as the history goes. Sights set on the PGA Championship.

"I made a lot of the right decisions down the stretch and (have) certainly closed plenty of tournaments out, and this just wasn't one of those. It's hard to do that every single time. I won't beat myself up too bad because I do understand that.

"I think the way that I played this week and especially today would have won the US Open by more than just a shot. I didn't play as well there. It's just that's the kind of golf that was played by the field this week, it just took some special golf."

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