Jordan Spieth won The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on Sunday, overcoming an ugly front-nine and a near-disaster on No. 13 to beat Matt Kuchar to win his third golf major.
At age 23, Spieth is the youngest American to ever win The Open. He also joins Jack Nicklaus at the only two golfers to win three legs of golf’s grand slam before the age of 24.
Spieth struggled early on as he bogeyed three of the first four holes and shot 3-over on the front nine. He and Kuchar were seemingly stuck in a match-play scenario as they stayed tied for most of the round.
But then disaster struck Spieth on No. 13 and it looked like it was the 2016 Masters all over again. After cruising through the first three rounds, it looked like Spieth was going to blow another major.
Spieth’s tee shot on 13 went way right and he knew it was in big trouble right away. The ball was so far off line that the cameras lost track of it. Even the fans seemingly ran to the wrong spot.
NBC announcers estimated that Spieth’s ball ended up 100 yards right of the fairway and on the backside of a large ridge.
Spieth could only see the hole from the top of the ridge.
Spieth eventually decided to move his ball back to a practice area for a drop. However, now he was dealing with trucks and other obstacles.
At one point it looked like they even decided that true line was somewhere in between trucks.
One option was to return to the tee and re-hit his tee shot. But Spieth never seemed to serious weigh that option. Instead, he was going to take advantage of the nice lie he could find on the practice area.
Here is a look at exactly where Spieth was going to attempt his next shot after taking the unplayable lie.
Meanwhile, Kuchar would go 21 minutes in between shots.
So Kuchar did what the rest of us were doing: he took a knee and watched the scene unfold on a television, using a giant monitor behind the group.
Spieth eventually dropped and took his shot.
The shot appeared to come off the club to the right and Spieth was not happy. However, Spieth caught a break and the ball landed in the short rough, leaving him a short chip and a chance to at least save bogey.
When Spieth finally arrived at the green, his first move was to offer an apology fist-bump to Kuchar who seemed to be taking everything in stride and maybe even with some amusement.
Spieth would make his bogey putt.
While it could have been a lot worse for Spieth, he did surrender the lead for the first time all tournament as he fell one stroke behind Kuchar.
It was also easy to wonder how Spieth would react to the 13th hole as he has shown in the past that he can get frustrated and fall apart mentally at times. Instead Spieth showed that he wasn’t going to fall apart this time.
On the very next hole, Spieth nearly aced his tee shot at the par-3 No. 14.
Spieth would go on to birdie that hole. He also had an advantage moving forward as he had played the final four holes at 4-under in the first three rounds and Kuchar was 1-over on those holes.
And Spieth wasn’t done as he sunk a long eagle putt on No. 15.
Spieth then sank another long birdie putt on 16 to push his score to 11-under.
After Spieth fell behind by one stroke on 13, he took a two-stroke lead three holes later by going birdie-eagle-birdie. For good measure, Spieth added another birdie on No. 17, playing the final five holes at five-under, before Kuchar bogeyed No. 18 to give Spieth the three-stroke win.
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