Anirban Lahiri: Jordan Spieth showed nerves of steel in final rounds of The Open
“At first, Jordan Spieth seemed to lose them. However, in the end, he showed his steely resolve with extraordinary play in the final five holes,” writes Anirban Lahiri after the final day of the British Open.other sports Updated: Jul 23, 2017 23:52 IST
As usual, The Open became dramatic as we approached the end and nerves came into play at the ever-demanding Royal Birkdale on Sunday. At first, Jordan Spieth seemed to lose them. However, in the end, he showed his steely resolve with extraordinary play in the final five holes.
Towards the finish, it was a question of who would hold his nerve better – Spieth or Matt Kuchar. At stake was the Claret Jug. Spieth’s mistakes kept piling up and he was four-over through 13 holes. He lost the lead for the first time since midway on first day. Kuchar stayed at even par through 13 and the three-shot deficit had now become a one-shot lead. We wondered if Spieth’s nerves were beginning to play.
Then came the magical streak. After a brilliant recovery on the 13th to get away with a bogey, Spieth nearly had a hole-in-one on the 14th (got a birdie) and then putted from 40 feet for an eagle.
As if that was not enough, he added a 20-footer for birdie on the 16th. Then yet another birdie on the 17th made it five-under through four holes. On the 17th, Kuchar birdied as well. But from one behind, Spieth had moved two ahead when they came to the 18th tee. Kuchar bogeyed as Spieth parred to walk away with the Claret Jug.
Spieth also completed the third leg of a career slam, having already won Augusta Masters and US Open earlier.
One feels for Kuchar and often wonders why he has never won a Major. He is so consistent and solid almost all the time. I believe he has played close to 50 Majors and had Top-10s in all four of them.
Earlier, Li Haotong of China carded a brilliant 63 to zoom to six-under and set the benchmark. Then, there was Rory McIlroy with an eagle on 17th moving to five-under. He could not manage to get to six-under with a birdie on 18th which would have given him an outside chance.
I feel unlucky now as the weather cleared up and it became easy to negotiate the course just as I was packing my stuff at Birkdale.
More than half the field left had under par scores and a whole lot of others were at par immediately after the cut was applied after two days. That has a lot to do with the improved conditions.
While I was still mulling over what happened with my two rounds, one had to stand up and appreciate what Branden Grace was doing at Birkdale. A record eight-under 62 saw him rise through the leaderboard into the top five. He is also known as Amazing Grace on the circuit.
(Anirban Lahiri is writing this golf article exclusively for Hindustan Times. Views expressed are personal)