Jordan Spieth has become the 2017 Champion Golfer of the year after producing one of the most dramatic final rounds in Open history
Jordan Spieth put together the most outrageous back-nine comeback performance to win his third major title and first Open championship at Royal Birkdale by three shots over Matt Kuchar with a final-score of 268.
There’s barely enough words to describe the tumultuous fortunes of Jordan Spieth’s back-nine, but there is no doubt that the final round of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale will go down as one of the most dramatic Sunday finishes in major history.
'This is as much a high as I've ever experiejced in my golfing life," said Spieth. "I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can."
We wanted the drama of last year’s Stenson/Mickelson final, and we certainly got it – though it at times it was less of a stunning battle of perfect golf than a nail-biting performance with such moments of brilliance and horror it would have made Spielberg jealous.
Two shots clear standing on the 18th tee having just gone birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie, Jordan Spieth looked completely calm and in control. He found the green with his second and walked up the fairway of the 18th to the cheers of thousands, lifting his hat and thanking the crowd.
A simple two-putt par completed a one-under round of 69, but all that were there and all that watched will remember just how much that number fails to display the gritty and first-class discipline shown by Jordan Spieth in his recovery over the final five holes.
"Thank you so much," Spieth said to the crowds as he accepted the Claret Jug. "We as players look very much forward to this event, it's top class and you guys make it that way. You are the most respectful and educated fans in the world and we couldn't appreciate it more"
"What an incredible venue, what an incredible set up. There's many others, my caddie Michael keeping me in it today after not an ideal start.
"I was getting it down on myself and this is as much mine as it is his, and he deserves every credit he gets so thank you Mikey."
"This is absolutely a dream come true. It feels good to have this in my hands. What an incredible day, Matt - I really enjoyed battling with you."
"I have no idea how I shot one-under today. This is one of the most sought after trophies in the world, and to have my name on it is just a dream come true"
It wasn’t the final-round Jordan Spieth had in mind before he teed off on Sunday with a three-shot lead, but the heart shown by the 23-year-old in the midst of despair will be remembered for a very, very long time.
With a wayward drive leading to an opening hole bogey, there was something that felt a little bit nervy about Spieth as he attempted to complete the third leg of his grand slam.
At the start of the day Spieth had had just four bogeys in his previous three rounds, but by the ninth hole that total had doubled.
He littered three of his first four holes with dropped shots to lose his lead completely with a putter than couldn’t look colder, but Kuchar didn’t take advantage of Jordan’s worst golf of the week when he had the chance.
He missed a few putts of his own and by the 6th Spieth had regained a two-shot lead – though it wouldn’t last long.
Kuchar’s birdie on nine was met by an easy par-miss from Spieth, and as both players moved to eight-under par thanks to a two shot swing, many doubted whether Spieth would ever recover from his horrid front-nine.
If there’s ever been as many gasps from spectators in the few hours of Jordan Spieth’s back-nine we’d be shocked. With three pars in a row Jordan Spieth stood on the 13th tee at three-over-par for his round with a distinct lack of momentum and pushed his drive over 100 yards right of the fairway in to the wrong side of a hill in no-man’s land.
Almost 29 minutes of rulings later Spieth hit the most incredible blind shot from the practice range just short of the green, and although he escaped with a bogey he also lost the lead to Matt Kuchar.
Most players would have fallen apart at this stage, but Jordan almost holed out for an eagle on the par-three 14th, and from there - momentum was with the now three time major champion.
Unbelievably, he went on to hold a near 50-putt on the next for eagle to regain his lead over Kuchar - and in a way only Jordan Spieth could, two more birdies followed.
By this stage, most were speechless by the competitive mental strength of the new Open champion. There are very few players that could ever achieve what Jordan Spieth accomplished over the final few holes - and for Matt Kuchar, there was nothing else he could do.
With this victory, Jordan Spieth becomes the second youngest player with Jack Nicklaus (also 23) in history to win three legs of the grand slam - a week before his 24th birthday.
Haotong Li ties final-round scoring record
By the time Spieth and Kuchar had littered the front-nine with dropped shots, there was another name being whispered as a potential outsider if the leaders continued to struggle.
With a stunning seven-under 63, Haotong Li tied the lowest final-round scoring record at The Open and gaining the clubhouse lead at six-under-par.
Coming from almost nowhere, Li birdied all four of the final holes to put pressure on the leaderboard, the 21 year-old Chinese player admitted: “I think it was the best round of my life so far”
“But for some reason since hole No. 8, I just start holing everything."
With Jordan taking almost half an hour to work out a ruling on the 13th and having to head to the practice range to hit his approach – Haotong Li realised he better start warming up, just in case.
He, like the rest of us, didn’t anticipate the story Jordan would produce over the next week holes – but he will go down in the history books.
Alfie Plant is the 146th Leading Amateur at The Open:
England’s Alfie Plant had already secured The Open silver medal by Friday as the only amateur in the field to make the cut, but that didn’t stop him lapping up the crowd as he walked down the final-hole at Royal Birkdale.
“It’s definitely the best walk in golf”
With rounds of 71, 73, 69 and 73, Plant completes his final year as an amateur by celebrating his name being among some of the greatest in the game.
In an odd coincidence, Plant becomes the third leading amateur (following Justin Rose and Chris Wood) at Royal Birkdale in a row with a hortocultural surname.