It was a final round that will go down in history, if only for the unpredictability of its inevitability. Now if that sounds like a confusing sentence, it’s nothing compared to the glorious ding-dong battle that occurred at The Open Championship 2017, and left many golf experts scratching their heads. On the face of it, nothing seemed surprising. The name being carved into the Claret Jug was that of Jordan Spieth, the 23-year-old Texan who led by three shots on the Saturday evening, yet this was anything but a routine win. Spieth becomes the youngest man since Seve Ballesteros in 1979 to win The Open, and only the second player since Jack Nicklaus to win three different majors before the age of 24, and the manner in which he did truly befitted a champion.
It had all looked so easy leading up to that momentous Sunday afternoon. Thousands of fans had lined the course for the first three days, revelling in the stiff challenge that Royal Birkdale’s unique linksland course provides. A fair day on Thursday led to a competitive first round, with a whole raft of players carding under par, and a trio of Americans, Spieth, Kuchar and Koepka, at the top of the field on 65. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was still in the hunt, shooting one over par, while world number one Dustin Johnson and the 2016 champion Henrik Stenson, lurked ominously on 71 and 69 respectively. English amateur Alfie Plant also attracted his fair share of attention as his band of ardent and vocal supporters followed his exploits around this historic old course.
Almost a wash out
The rain arrived on Friday and changed the entire dynamic of the competition. For those players lucky enough to get out before the storm clouds rolled in, it was a chance to eat away at the lead of those at the top of the table. The conditions were truly abysmal with driving rain and a fierce, biting wind damaging many contenders’ hopes. Most of the field floundered in the wet weather, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel scored an eight-over-par 78, while other big names like Lee Westwood, Jason Day and Branden Grace, struggled to stay in the cut. Not so for Spieth however, despite going out right in the middle of the worst weather, the American was serene, shrugging off the filthy conditions to score a statement 69.
A round to forget
Saturday saw more of the same from Spieth and Kuchar and the two Ryder Cup teammates led the field going into the final day. Spieth may have been three clear of his compatriot but this was going to be anything but straightforward. The young man seemed to freeze up over the first nine holes, his putting was stiff and awkward and his usually reliable iron game seemed to have deserted him. Four bogeys from Spieth saw Matt Kuchar draw level and it looked likely we would see another Spieth collapse, similar to the Masters in 2016. The 13th hole is where it all turned around however. An awful tee shot saw Spieth land way over the dunes, almost in and amongst the technical trucks, and the writing seemed to be on the wall.
The makings of a true champion
Jordan Spieth’s mental fortitude should never be doubted. Instead of giving up, his wayward drive seemed somehow to inspire him. Taking 29 minutes to play the shot, Spieth took a drop, clubbed a recovery over the rough to within feet of the green and scored a miraculous, and tournament-saving, bogey. The two-time Major winner then took that momentum and embraced it. Blitzing the next four holes with a birdie, an eagle, a birdie and a birdie, Spieth sprinted clear of the Kuch just at the moment when it seemed as though his game had deserted him. In the end, it seemed a formality with the champion finishing three clear but in reality it was anything but, something Spieth acknowledged in his victory speech.
“I was so confident and all of a sudden, the wheels have come off everything, and it’s how do you get back on track to salvage this round and just give yourself a chance at the end? All of a sudden the lid came off, and the 30-footers were two-footers to me. I don’t know why I can’t make it a little more boring sometimes.”
It was a tournament that will go down in history of one of the most dramatic ever and the events of the final day left golf fans across the world glued to their television sets. If you’re a member of a golf club, an occasional player or haven’t even picked up a putter yet, Spieth’s heroics may well have inspired you to book a round in. If you do, then you may want to look at golf insurance that could cover you in case of unwelcome issues. At The Insurance Emporium, we offer flexible golf insurance, in three levels of cover, that you can Tweak with great Elective Benefits like New For Old For Life and Extended Public Liability. With up to 30% discount available, stop by the Emporium today and find out how you can protect your golfing passions!
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