Jordan Spieth played his last five holes 5-under to win the Open Championship by two over Matt Kuchar. The win gives Spieth his third major championship and the third leg of the career grand slam. Spieth joins Jack Nicklaus as the only players with three majors before the age of 24, and the win moves Spieth into the pantheon of the greatest players of all time. He will head to the PGA Championship in two weeks looking to become the youngest to win the career grand slam. The list of firsts goes on and on and begs the question... is he the greatest player since Tiger Woods?
Spieth's game doesn't have the same physicality and dominance as Woods, but it does have the same precise iron play, superb short game, clutch putting and intangibles.
Spieth is the world's best player from 200 yards and has a Woods-esque knack for rising to the occasion. Much like Woods, Jordan Spieth rarely gives shots back to the field. He can play extremely poorly for stretches of time without giving away shots.
Most importantly, he is the king of conquering the micro-moments that sway golf tournaments. He did it four weeks ago at the Travelers, holing a bunker shot, and Sunday's came on the 13th hole.
Things didn't look good for Spieth following his tee shot on the 13th. He had made four bogeys and one birdie and had taken a penalty for an unplayable lie. With Kuchar on the green, he was sure to lose at least a shot. Spieth made a remarkable bogey by canning a 7' putt and limiting the damage to one shot.
Buoyed by the first charge of momentum on the day, Spieth put together a historic close. He almost made an ace on the par 3 14th, hitting it inside 4' and converting to pull back even. He canned a lengthy eagle putt on the par 5 15th to pull one ahead of Kuchar.
He rolled in another putt on the 16th to distance himself further, finishing off Kuchar on the 17th by answering Kuchar's birdie with one of his own to head to the final hole two ahead. Spieth parred the 18th to play the final five holes 5-under. A historic close fitting for a bonafide superstar.
Spieth didn't have his A-Game on Sunday, but he hung tough, limiting the damage so he had a chance down the stretch. He beat a world-class player in Kuchar, who’s at the top of his game, and posted a fourth straight score in the 60's.
Kuchar remarked that he could taste the Open Championship on the 14th tee. He played the next four holes 2-under and found himself two down on the 18th tee. He ran into one of the greatest closing stretches in major championship history. Kuchar was clear and away the second best player this week and, to a certain extent, deserving of much more than 2nd place. Seeking his first major championship, this was Kuchar’s best effort in 2017 and possibly his entire career. He finished t4th at Augusta, t16th at Erin Hills and now 2nd at Birkdale. Good for an average finish of 7.2, second only to Brooks Koepka's average of 6th.
3 - Man Weave - Open Championship Recap
DJ Piehowski and Tron Carter joined the pod to recap what we saw at Birkdale. We talked extensively about Kuchar's tough loss and what Spieth's trajectory is. Listen on the website, iTunes or Stitcher.
A stellar Sunday
21-year-old China-born Hao Tong Li fired a final-round 63 to vault into 3rd place. The finish was the best ever by a Chinese-born player, and Li is another great young player to watch. Li plays on the European Tour and has 5 professional wins. His first and only Euro Tour win came at last year's Volvo China Open. His third finish earns him a spot in next year's Masters, and makes Li a name to keep an eye on in the future.
Rory McIlroy fired a third consecutive round in the 60's to notch a t4th at Royal Birkdale. The final-round 67 could have been two shots better had it not been for a lost ball on the par-5 15th. McIlroy now has company in the discussion of the game's best player. It will be interesting to see how he reacts at the PGA Championship. Quail Hollow is a course that favors bombers and where he has had a great deal of success.