It was the storyline everyone was hoping would happen this week at St. Andrews. No golfer has won the first three majors of the year since Ben Hogan in 1953, but Jordan Spieth had an opportunity to join Hogan this week at the Home of Golf. Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be.
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The Spieth Slam came to an end at The Old Course during Monday’s final round of the 144th Open Championship. Instead of Ben Hogan, Spieth joined Arnold Palmer as the last golfer to win the first two majors of the year and come up one stroke short of winning The Open, although he made things interesting.
Spieth started the fireworks early on the front nine with three birdies in his first six holes. An unfortunate four-putt double bogey on the par 3 8th hole knocked him down a couple notches, a hole that would come back to haunt him. Spieth did, however, bounce back nicely with consecutive birdies on the next two holes to get back in contention.
"“I just made a really bad mental mistake on eight. It was the hardest wind and the hardest rain we faced all day, all at the same time. We stepped on the tee and when we looked up and got pelted in the face, it’s a hard shot. I just tried to sling one in there and I left 40 yards to the pin.”"
Trailing by one stroke entering the 16th hole, Spieth drained a massive birdie putt to grab his share of the lead at 15-under. It was only the third birdie of the day at 16, which was also the third hardest hole on the course in the final round.
Spieth made a rare bogey on the 17th hole after a poor approach shot and dropped a shot out of the lead, yet again.
He entered the 18th hole needing a birdie to join Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman in a four-hole playoff. Spieth’s drive went left, leaving him with an awkward look at the hole from about 102 yards out.
The approach shot looked good and landed pin high, but had too much backspin and rolled off the front of the green, leaving him with a lengthy putt from the first cut. Jordan gave the putt a good line, but it came to rest within inches of the hole where he would tap in to finish -14, ultimately ending his bid for the Grand Slam by one shot.
It’s easy to sit here and be the armchair golfer, pointing out all the missed opportunities Spieth had, but one thing’s for sure, the 21 year old did not choke it away. If that’s the word you are using to describe Spieth’s outcome, then you need to go take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror.
Spieth didn’t choke at The Open Championship, he merely came up short. He overcame almost every obstacle he faced during the week, whether it was the hounding media or the R&A making him play in Saturday morning’s conditions. Missing an eight footer for par on the 17th hole far from qualifies as a choke.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski once said about one of his greatest players, Christian Laettner, “Christian may miss, but he will never choke.” The same goes for Jordan Spieth. Spieth has proven he can handle himself in pressure situations. In the immediate gratification society we live in, people are quick to forget the fact that he didn’t choke in the first two majors of the year.
One thing we do know is that Spieth will carry this moment with him and will use it as motivation for the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in a couple of weeks. “I don’t know how many guys have won three majors in a year. I’m sure there’s only been a few. So sights set on the PGA Championship.”
The most dangerous Spieth is a pissed off Spieth.