Photo Associated Press: United States’ Zach Johnson poses with the trophy after winning a playoff after the final round at the British Open Golf Championship at the Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland, Monday, July 20, 2015.
As the dust settles on St Andrews and the crowds begin to leave, it gives us a chance to reflect on one of the most exciting majors we have seen in a long time. It was a tournament that was filled with different story lines and missed opportunities, where the eventual winner wasn’t the sprinter but instead the marathon runner who was ready for a war of attrition.
Close but no cigar… Again
As the final group approached the 5th hole of the final round up to 25 different competitors were in with a chance of winning the tournament, it chopped and changed like the Scottish sea throughout the breezy and blustery Monday afternoon.
The early leader from Day 1 was Dustin Johnson who looked as if he was going to blow the old course away. After an incredible 65 first round his form continued into the second round until extreme weather conditions meant he did not get to finish his second round on Friday. Following the recommencement of the second round Dustin was still in the lead on 10 under par going into Sunday’s third round. However as he has done on so many other occasions, he could not keep his form going into the final two rounds. With a slow start to round three DJ seemed to get more and more frustrated that the birdie putts would not drop before eventually falling off the tournament pace.
Photo Associated Press: United States’ Jordan Spieth makes a wayward drive from the 18th tee during the final round at the British Open Golf Championship at the Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland, Monday, July 20, 2015.
Jason Day Played his usual patient and consistent golf making only 3 bogies all week. He converted two birdies on the front nine of the final round to put himself in position for his first major title, but as he rolled par after par in on the back nine it always felt as if he just needed one more birdie. That opportunity came on the last hole with a downhill 18ft putt, but disappointingly he left his final putt on the final green online but short of the hole.
For the second time in four years Adam Scott will no doubt rue his back nine performance at The British Open. The difficult finish at St Andrews definitely got the better of Adam who despite once taking the lead dropped 5 shots in the last 5 holes to finish on 11 under and Tied 10th
The Amateurs almost stole the show at the 144th Open Championship. At one point in the final round there were 4 amateurs in the top 20 players. One of the most exciting storylines came in the form of 22 year old Paul Dunne from Greystones who had snatched a share of the 54 hole lead with a phenomenal third round 66. The young Irishman looked cool, calm and collected as he slotted home 6 birdies and no bogeys on Sunday, however Monday was very different. As the country of Ireland appeared to take a sick day to support Paul and the potential history he could have made he found it very difficult to recover from a nervous start and could not keep up with the pace on the front 9.
Meanwhile amateurs Oliver Schniederjans and Ashley Chesters produced magnificent rounds of 67 and 69 respectively. However the coveted silver medal went to american Jordan Niebrugge who produced rounds of 67, 73, 67, 70.
The Spieth Slam
Although Spieth did not keep his hopes of a Grand Slam alive he definitely did not let us down in trying. With two holes to go it looked like it was Jordan’s for the taking. After bogeying 17 and hitting a nervy tee shot close to the boundary fence on the left hand side of 18, his approach shot spun into the valley of sin short of the famous 18th green at St Andrews. However with thoughts of Constantino Rocca’s famous putt in the back of everyone’s mind, if anyone could hole it Jordan could. His brilliant effort finished only an inch to the left of the cup, and with that his hopes of capturing all four majors of 2015. There are a number of places in which Spieth could look back and say he could have and should have saved a shot, but as everyone knows that’s golf.
Interview with Zach Johnson after his win
And then there was three…
Marc Leishman proved to everyone, it’s not how you start that matters, it’s how you finish. After making the cut with one shot to spare Leishman produced rounds of 64 and 66 to tie Zach Johnson for the clubhouse lead. However after a quick start from his competitors in the 4 hole playoff Marc struggled to keep up with the occasion and by the time they were standing on the 18th tee he was merely a spectator.
As the final group turned into the difficult last 9 holes, Louis Oosthuizen continued his ball striking masterclass. Louis has a great record at St Andrews having won The Open at the old course in 2010. As the round progressed he continued to show his grit and determination by holing putts on 16, 17 and 18 to force his way into a 3 way playoff. He came out all guns firing in the playoff too as he rolled in a birdie putt on the first playoff hole, however after missing a short one on the 17th (3rd playoff hole) he could not catch the eventual winner Zach Johnson.
Johnson shot a clinical 66 in the final round to close the gap on the leaders. Despite having made 7 birdies he still needed to hole a fantastic putt on 18 to reach the playoff. Johnson showed his class by following Oosthuizen’s birdie in with one of his own on the first playoff hole and then banked another on the 2nd to give him the lead. That was enough to give Johnson his second major and the famous title “Champion Golfer of the Year 2015”.