Jordan Spieth carded a final-round one-under 69 to win The Open by three shots, completing a wire-to-wire victory to win his third major championship.
Or so the record books will say. But for those who watched one of the most dramatic championship-winning final-rounds in major history, that doesn't do justice to the true story of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
Rob Jerram was inside the ropes following the Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar entire way, and here he lets you relive the drama with a hole-by-hole account of the highs and lows of the inside story - including things you won't have heard or seen on TV.
Hole 1: A huge welcome on the tee for both players. Spieth is all smiles, but within a few minutes he's rattled. He gets a tough lie off the tee and looks perplexed as he misses short putt to save par – it’s the first time the flatstick has really let him down all week. Kuch bounces towards second tee after a par to ensure gap is closed to two immediately.
Hole 2: Wow, we’ve got early drama, just as we hoped. Kuchar twirls the club as he stiffs one to a couple of feet. He taps in the birdie, Jordan can only par, and it’s down to one. ‘Kuuuuuuuuch’. Deafening noise from the record crowds and the man seeking his first Major acknowledges with that famous grin.
Hole 3: Kuch makes bogey, a boost for Jordan, But he’s made bogey too and he looks shell-shocked – an uncharacteristic three-putt. He looked nervous over it. Caddie Michael Greller talks to him quietly.
Hole 4: it’s all tied at the top. Incredible. Back-to-back bogeys from Jordan and he is seriously rattled as he three-putts again. He looks glazed as he races past me towards the 5th tee, while a relaxed Kuch stops and signs a ball for a young fan.
Hole 5: Jordan has a quick toilet break, presumably to compose himself. Hits a great tee shot on the short par 4 and puts an approach within birdie range. ‘Let’s get two back by the turn,’ he tells caddie Michael Greller before holing the putt to immediately get one. Kuchar makes a safe par but Spieth has the lead again, by one at nine-under.
Hole 6: Massive, massive break for Spieth here and he knows it. His drive heads left, towards the crowd prompting another scream of ‘fore’. Kuchar’s drive is comfortably inside the line of Spieth’s and he looks happy but as we arrive at their balls and the crowd is moved back Spieth sees he has a great lie as the rough has all been trodden down.
Kuchar looks shocked to see his ball in a thick bank of rough above the bunker. Jordan hits a poor shot but Kuchar follows suit, choosing to hit hybrid despite Jordan’s struggles and falling short right. The usually calm Kuch pulls an annoyed face and goes on to bogey. Spieth makes par, gives Greller a nod and his head is up. Lead is two.
Hole 7: Both players find the green on the par 3 but Kuch is in to 10ft. He misses. Jordan holes a tricky par putt, especially after those earlier misses and before they walk to the 8th Greller pulls him back for a pep talk.
In his press conference after the round, Spieth gave a greater insight in to this pep talk. He said: "We walked off 7 tee box, and he made me come back. He said, "I've got something to say to you: He said do you remember that group you were with?"
"You're that caliber of an athlete. But I need you to believe that right now because you're in a great position in this tournament. This is a new tournament. We're starting over here."
Hole 8: Now it’s Kuch’s turn to be frustrated as another short birdie putt slips by and he takes three or four looks back at the hole before he moves off to the 9th.
Hole 9: Kuch takes advantage of superb approach to the par 4 by holing the short uphill putt to a tight, front-left pin for birdie before coming and standing right next to me to watch Jordan’s three-footer for par. Spieth’s on edge. He calls Greller in for a read and steps away from the putt to repair a mark that he’s spotted.
Wow, he’s missed it. Three three-putts in nine holes, Jordan is rattled. Kuch turns on his heels the second it goes by and bounces to 10. ‘Really, that’s going to break to the right. Seriously?” Spieth asks Greller as they hang back before heading to 10 tied for the lead at -8.
Hole 10: Despite the pressure, Spieth still high-fives various kids as he walks off the 10th tee. Kuch is relaxed, reaching for his phone from his bag as he strolls down the fairway. A fan shouts asking if he’s taking a selfie, Kuch smiles the Kuch smile. Pars shared, lead shared.
Hole 11: Kuchar, Spieth and Greller walk off the 11th tee and down the fairway chatting and laughing like three buddies playing a Sunday round at their local club, not the final round of a Major. Kuch’s comment has Jordan laughing… guessing he hasn’t mentioned Augusta ’16.
The laughs don’t last long as Jordan hits a wild one left of the green into the crowd… wait, it must be his day. As we walk up the ball has been stopped from arrowing into a dense bush by a group of golf fans’ bodies. This is not the pin to miss left… but what a chip for a kick-in par. Kuch makes his 4 and they remain at -8.
Hole 12: Spieth loves his tee shot line but his classic ‘softly’ ball whispering line is on repeat. It’s not a soft landing and he settles for par. ‘It just needed a little more hold and it would have been the one,’ he tells Greller.
Hole 13: Oh no, is this unlucky 13 for Spieth. A tee shot more likely to be seen from a mid-handicapper than two-time Major winner. I’m right behind him as he leaves the clubface wide open, the ball slices right towards the tallest of dunes and the practice ground. Spieth shouts ‘fore’ and both hands cover his head. What has he done? ‘Have they got it?’ he asks as he pulls a provisional ball from his bag and… wait, they’re waving him down, they’ve found it.
Or have they? As we arrive it becomes clear they haven’t and there’s confusion. A search ensues with marshals, press and the crowd helping. Now, it’s been found – perhaps Jordan would’ve preferred it not to be. Kuchar hits his approach from the right rough as Jordan tries to work things out. He’s going to do himself an injury if he walks up and down this huge dune many more times.
He’s taking a drop for an unplayable lie and is looking at hitting from the practice range for the best lie and line. There’s talk of Titleist player Jordan needing the Titleist tour truck moving. ‘Does anyone have the keys?’ a marshal jokes. But it won’t come to that. Now Jordan is struggling for a yardage. He has 270 and pulls a 3-wood but Greller tells him ‘no’ and thinks it’s more like 230.
Is this one of Geller’s vetoes? It’s 3-iron Greller tells his boss. Meanwhile Kuch is safely on the green for a chance of birdie but this delay is doing him no good. He’s stood alone on the fairway, stretching and has put on a jumper. Jordan finally hits and leaves it short of the green but it’s an incredible effort. As he arrives at the green he approaches Kuch: ‘Sorry about that man, it took me lot of time to figure out my drop’. The pair fist bump and Spieth complements Kuch’s approach.
A superb chip leaves Spieth five-foot to save an unlikely bogey. Kuch’s birdie attempt misses, but he taps in for par. Now Spieth, who must be nervous over another short putt... Holes it. He’s one-behind but it must feel like he’s just taken the lead. Greller pulls him back and tells him it’s a ‘momentum shifter’.
Hole 14: ‘Be good’ comes Spieth’s call as his 6-iron heads for the flag on the par 3… he hasn’t, has he? Oh. Almost an ace. He runs to the players’ toilet right next to me, only to discover it’s occupied by a Golf Channel cameraman. ‘Sh*t,’ the normally polite Texan says. I assume that’s frustrations as opposed to what he needs, although who could blame him after this round. Business concluded he holes his birdie putt, Kuch makes par and we are tied once again. Who’d have predicted that after the tee shot on 13?
Hole 15: Two great drives and the pair are chatting again. Spieth is on in two and suddenly he looks like Jordan ‘the closer’ not Jordan ‘the choker’. OH. MY. GOD. He’s drained a 50-footer for eagle and the crowd has gone wild. Spieth looks at Greller and mouths ‘go get that,’ smiling and pointing at his ball in the hole. Kuchar makes his birdie but his head has dropped slightly, the momentum has shifted, just as Greller predicted. The Texan leads by one at -10. Surely he won’t let this go now.
Hole 16: This is crazy. Spieth’s surely sealed the Open here and he’s bouncing. He’s just sunk a 30-foot putt for birdie to open up a two-shot lead. Kuch’s head physically drops with Spieth’s ball – is this the same golfer who was three-putting for fun just a couple of hours ago?
Hole 17: Kuch finds trouble in the right rough off the tee and looks a little frustrated as marshals try to stop the crowd from encroaching on the course, forcing him to step off his second shot, but he manages to make decent progress.
Spieth is short of the green in two and after a long discussion with Greller he’s ready to play his chip. As he pulls the club back a photographer’s shutter breaks the silence and Greller fumes. ‘No clicks before the shot man’. Spieth shakes his head and stares at the group of photographers.
‘Wow, really?’ he says. ‘I won’t want to be that photographer if he puts this in the bunker or through the back,’ a fellow journalist whispers to me. No risk of that. A sublime clipped chip settles a couple of feet left of the hole. Kuch holes a six-footer for birdie before Spieth drains his to take a two-shot lead down 18. Kuch looks resigned as he speaks to his caddie. Jordan and Greller bound through the crowd like excited kids as everyone scrambles to keep up.
Hole 18: Tee shots away and, despite Kuchar’s prayers, Spieth hasn’t hit another one like he did on 13. He needs a miracle and the usually wide smile disappears as he hits his approach into the greenside pot bunker. The crowd’s reaction tells Kuch everything as mutters something under his breath, shaking his head. Spieth puts his approach onto the front of the green and shares a smile with Greller.
Barring Kuch holing out and Spieth producing a rare three-putt, this is done. 24 hours earlier Kuchar had told Spieth to take in the moment as they walked down 18. He’s certainly taking it in today. The record crowds are deafening. Kuch can barely get a stance and, despite getting his ball onto the middle of the green, his race is run and his face sinks. Jordan’s incredible eagle/birdie run is over but he’s left himself a tap-in for par.
Kuch misses to finish with a bogey before stepping aside to give Jordan his moment. The former world no.1 started the day with a three-shot lead, he ends the day with a three-shot victory for major no.3… it’s almost as if nothing changed on Sunday.