Jordan Spieth now has a third Major to resume, after putting on a Woodsian (that’s a work now?) display on back nine at Royal Birkdale to win The Open Championship. He had a chance to hoist the Claret Jug a few years at St. Andrews, but a chip to the 18th green fell short and into the ‘Valley of Sin”, making his birdie attempt near impossible to make to join a playoff. That would have been his third straight Major that year, but it was not to be. Back to back Masters titles looked like a lock in 2016, until he rinsed two balls at the famous 12th at August National. Many golf observers and fans wondered in Spieth would overcome that. There certainly was a hangover from it, but it truly didn’t last long. In may of 2016, he won the Dean & Delluca Invitational. Although he wasn’t much of a factor at the The U.S. Open and Open Championship, he was a respectable T13 at the PGA Championship (the remaining Major to complete the career Grand Slam). That did not lead to rumblings that he was getting ready to make some changes, mainly his caddie Michael Greller. Spieth is a team guy, and stuck with his team because he knew he was close. He proved it with a win at Pebble Beach, a T11 at The Masters, two other top 5’s, and a thrilling hole-out playoff win at The Travelers. Its hard to believe he’s just 23 years old.
While we’re on Spieth, he is a killer on the course. You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks. Johnny Miller aptly pointed out on the NBC telecast that he’s only seen that in one other person, Tiger Woods in his day. While Spieth has a long way to go to really be compared to Tiger, Miller is right in the way Spieth gets himself fired up on the course, as he did after making a bizarre, yet impressive bogey on 14th. Holing the putt to keep the damage from a terrible tee shot and subsequent range visits for line of site drop, fired Spieth up to get back in it. It was great to watch. Most players would have struggled to get back in it, but Spieth is not most players.
Nice guys don’t finish last, but they do finish second. At least Matt Kuchar did at Royal Birkdale. Kuchar is nice, and was gracious to his friend Jordan Spieth on the victory, but I wanted Kuch to win. I think many golf fans did. He is one the best players yet to win a Major, and at 39 years old, time is not on his side.
Brandon Grace had a historic 3rd round, shooting a Major’s low score of 62. A friend and fellow golfer asked me if mattered that Royal Birkdale was a par 72 and not par 70. My answer is not in the least. A par 72 course has two more par 5’s and thus, two more birdie opportunities. I view them the same. I witnessed Jim Furyk shoot 58 last year at The Travelers Championship on a par 70 TPC River Highlands Course. The place was electric, and his finish was thrilling. Grace was in the zone, and it his 62 should be celebrated by all golf fans.