In case you didn’t know, Jordan Spieth is good. As a matter of fact, he’s really really good. Jordan Spieth is only 23 years old and already has three major championship trophies. The latest one was just collected July 23, 2017 at The Open (The British Open). The most impressive part is how he won the tournament.
After the first round of the tournament, he was tied for the lead with a solid round of five-under. Friday and Saturday he shot one-under and five-under respectively. He was a constant fix atop the leaderboard throughout the tournament. It seemed like he had this championship in the bag going into the final round of Sunday. He had a bad start on the front nine. He had three bogeys on the first four holes, and had a bogey on number nine. This left the door slightly open for Matt Kuchar, his playing partner. Kuchar, also, had been playing well the entire tournament. Then both players came to the 13th tee tied at eight-under. That’s when Spieth’s drive when way right. It went so far right that it was near the practice range. After he finally found his ball, he had the option of going all the back to the tee or trying to play it where it lied. This was shades of The Masters in 2016 all over again. That year he had a five-stroke lead going to hole number 12. That is when he put not one but two balls in the water. He ended with a quadruple-bogey 7 on that hole and eventually lost the tournament. He apparently remembered that moment because he took about 20 minutes to figure out all his options. He finally decided to take a one-shot penalty for an unplayable lie. This allowed him relief as far back as he wanted, onto the range, behind the equipment trucks. From that point, he took a free relief from the trucks. His next shot was a spectacular blind shot over some dunes just short of the green. He then chipped up and made his putt to escape with a bogey.
Kuchar was patiently waiting the whole time on the green for his birdie putt. He would eventually miss it, but he now had the lead. This is the moment when it seemed like Kuchar would collect his first major trophy. It is no way Spieth can come back from losing his momentum. Wrong! Spieth stepped up to the par-3 14th hole and nearly had a hole-in-one. He tapped in with a birdie. At the next hole, the par-5 15th he made a 50-foot putt for eagle. He was not only back in the lead, but he was playing extraordinary golf. At the par-4 16th hole, he made a 20-foot putt for birdie. If that wasn’t enough he added a 7-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 17th hole. This gave him a two-stroke lead going to the final hole, which he parred. It wasn’t as if Kuchar didn’t play well down the stretch and just gave it to Spieth. Kuchar birdied holes 15 and 17. He said, “Once we started playing again, I had a great shot at birdie and nearly thought my putt was going in to make a birdie there. I didn’t lose any momentum. All of a sudden I now have a 1-shot lead after that hole in the British Open with five to go. I’m playing really well. Hitting a lot of good shots. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. And he just — he really turned it up.”
“Jordan won the tournament,” PGA Professional Rob Labritz said. “Kuchar has to sit back and say, ‘I got beat.’ If you run into a guy who can putt like Spieth… it’s remarkable what he does under pressure. You just have to say to yourself, ‘I ran into a Tiger-like/Spieth factor that day.’ That’s what Tiger did for years.” He went on to say, “That stretch he had was insane after the bogey. That one swing was one blip and that’s the only attention he paid to it. He’s not focused on the outcome, but the shot he’s hitting. That’s the whole thing about golf. The more and more I talk to very good players — Tour players, PGA Professionals, club champions — they’re men and women who aren’t looking at outcomes. They’re looking at the shot in front of them. That’s the only thing you can do at that moment, the only thing they can control. There’s no point in undue stress you can’t control.”
What Spieth accomplished at Royal Birkdale was nothing short of remarkable. He became just the second player alongside Jack Nicklaus to win three legs of the career grand slam before the age of 24. All he has to do is win the PGA Championship title in August to complete the career grand slam. He would then join the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and Gary Player. Not one of us is perfect. Yes, I know I’m stating the obvious. So, it is good to keep that reminder fresh in our mind because we all make mistakes. What is important is that we learn from our mistakes and not duplicate them. If Spieth doesn’t reflect on his meltdown at The Masters, then he is not able to hoist the claret jug this year. He wouldn’t be able to say, “This is a dream come true for me. Absolutely a dream come true.”