The Open: The seven things you missed…


Koepka misses out on history

Were it not for four consecutive bogeys to start his final round, Brooks Koepka might have departed Royal Portrush as the first player in the modern era to finish third or better in all four majors in a season. Instead, he fell one shot short of history, albeit with an incredible record that now reads second, first, second, fourth in the majors this season.

It was a disappointing end, but one which shouldn’t take the gloss off a level of superiority which is comparable to Tiger in 2000. He might only have one win to show for it, but Koepka can point to being a combined 36-under par in majors this year. Only Tiger can boast a better single season score to par over the last 30 years. 

Hapless Holmes in final round to forget 

While all the focus was on Shane Lowry, it was easy to miss first-round leader J.B. Holmes trying to rival David Duval for the worst round of the week. Despite starting the day six shots off the lead in third place, Holmes finished fourth from last after racking up four double bogeys, one triple bogey and six bogeys. It all added up to a 16-over-par round of 87, the highest final round in an Open since 1966!

Fowler latches on to nearly man tag yet again

It’s a tag no one wants in golf, being labelled as one of the best players to have never won a major, but Rickie Fowler is fast making a habit of being cast as the nearly man when it matters most. 

The irony is that when he ties the knot in October, he will finally have the chance to be the leading man. In the majors, he’s more accustomed to being the bridesmaid and had he not launched his opening tee shot out of bounds to start his final round at Royal Portrush, he might have reprised that role for a fourth time.

The harsh truth is that he continues to promise so much, yet deliver very little. Now aged 30, he’s claimed just four PGA Tour titles since winning his first in 2009, a scant return for a man of his talent and consistency.

A top-10 finish at this year’s Open did, however, take his tally to 11 in his major career, including five in his last 11 starts. That keeps him eight behind Lee Westwood, who has the third-most of all-time among players who have never won a major.

But at the age of 46, Westwood’s chances of winning one are fading faster than his hair line. Perhaps age is the only thing that Fowler has on his side. 

MacIntye “dream” week ends with 2020 Open invite

European Tour rookie Robert MacIntyre hailed his Open debut as a ‘dream come true’ after finishing in a share of sixth to secure his spot in next year’s Championship at Royal St George’s.

The 22-year-old from Scotland started the third round in a tie for 29th, but put behind his bust-up with Kyle Stanley to birdie the last and card a three-under round of 68.

“Unfortunately that putt wasn’t to win The Open but it’s put me in good position for the future,” said MacIntyre, who has two runner-up finishes to his name this season. “You never know how many of these you’re going to get. For the first one, it’s been a dream come true.”

Elsewhere, there was some consolation for Lee Westwood who, despite failing in his attempts to become the oldest first-time winner in major championship history, booked his ticket to Augusta next year with a top-four finish. It means he will now end a two-year absence from The Masters, a place where he has twice finished runner-up.

Spieth’s Sunday blues continue

It’s official: Jordan Spieth’s driving accuracy has deserted him, and with it his ability to challenge on a Sunday.

In truth, the former has always been a bit of a problem; it brought us that infamous driving range shot at Royal Birkdale, remember? Even so, few would expect a three-time major champion to find less than 40 per cent of the fairways on a course which isn’t even that tight.

Luckily, he got away with hitting out of the rough more times than not during the first three rounds, but the course bit back on Sunday as he went on a wretched run of eight bogeys in 11 holes to finish in a tie for 20th.

It’s a reoccurring problem that has plagued his season to date, and leaves him second from last in final round scoring averages on the PGA Tour. He now faces a battle to avoid missing out on the Tour Championship for a second-year running.

Finau finds his form 

While everyone around him went backwards, Tony Finau didn’t do a whole lot wrong. He started on seven-under, finished on seven-under, and made up five places to finish in solo third, his fourth top 10 of the year on the PGA Tour. 

More impressive than that, Finau’s result is his fifth major top 10 in his last eight starts and is better than just about anyone whose name isn’t Brooks Koepka. 

Cowen’s backhanded compliment

He might not be the most PC coach in the world, as illustrated when he branded Matt Wallace “a complete idiot” at the start of the week, but Pete Cowen does have a good eye for talent, according to Graeme McDowell.

“Pete Cowen tells an amazing story, [he] went to the Irish squad training down in Dublin and the guy said, ‘Who do you like?’ And he obviously said, ‘Rory McIlroy looks pretty good, but that slightly overweight kid with the glasses on’, who was Shane Lowry at the time, ‘he looks good’. 

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