Last years Open produced a classic Sunday shoot out between Phil Mickelson and the eventual winner Henrik Stenson. The quality of golf was outstanding with Stenson shooting a final round of 63 to take the Championship trophy. This years was equally absorbing but for different reasons. It seemed from the second round onward that there would be only one winner and that the tournament was Jordan Spieth’s to lose as all the other contenders were not able to maintain any sort of consistent challenge. As always in golf nothing is ever that simple and after an over par front nine Spieth was locked in a battle with Matt Kuchar. Kuchar isn’t renowned as a regular winner but is one of the games most consistent players and makes a fortune by finishing in the top ten most weeks. By the time they had reached the 12th they were all square and then the drama started and Spieth got very lucky. He knocked his tee shot 120 yards off line into the deep rough. He had an unplayable lie and took a penalty drop and twenty minutes later hit his next shot from the practice ground from a near perfect lie. Twenty minutes is a long time to make a decision as to where he could drop the ball and after discussions with two officials he was allowed to go back onto the practice ground and play from there. Whilst he didn’t break any rules and indeed could be commended for making the most of the situation the R&A clearly made a mistake when they didn’t make the practice ground out of bounds probably in the belief that no one could be that far off line!
All credit to Kuchar who having waited for the twenty minute fiasco to be resolved proceeded to hit the green and made a solid par to take a one stroke lead. From there Spieth took full advantage of his good fortune and drew level with a birdie at the next where he nearly holed his tee shot. He then holed a 35 foot putt for an eagle at the next and despite Kuchar making a birdie there he had lost the lead never to regain it. Spieth then birdied the 16th and 17th and with a two shot lead had a nice leisurely stroll to victory.
Did he deserve it? Finishing 5 under par for the last 5 holes was certainly one of the greatest finishes in The Open history but getting away with a dreadful shot on the 13th and then holing an incredible number of putts did seem to show one that he has amazing mental strength to overcome any obstacle, and two, that he is without doubt the greatest putter in the world at the moment. Golf isn’t a game of pretty swings – its all about getting the ball in the hole and Spieth is currently the outstanding example of that.
The real winner was the golf course which proved a great test of golf despite not having knee high rough and lightning fast greens, and the organisation of the event was superb. Everything went smoothly and with nearly two hundred and fifty thousand spectators it has set a benchmark that Carnoustie will be hard pressed to match next year.
What were your thoughts on The Open 2017? Comment below, we’d love to hear them!