It seemed a formality at the start of the day, but overnight leader Jordan Speith’s victory in the 2017 Open Championship this morning was anything but routine. Speith and playing partner Matt Kuchar had separated themselves from the chasing pack after 54 holes, with Speith enjoying a 3-shot buffer over Kuchar and 6 over the rest of the field. Within 4 holes on Sunday, however, the talented young Texan was in a dogfight, having bogeyed three of those early holes and watching as a comfortable advantage turned quickly into a share of the lead.
Speith’s misadventures on the opening nine were forgotten in the fireworks that erupted on the final six holes of the event. Standing on the 13th tee still tied with Kuchar, Speith hit what might eventually be regarded as the wildest tee shot by a major championship winner. Forget Seve Ballesteros and his famous carpark heroics at Royal Lytham, the block drive from Speith on 13 missed the fairway by at least 60 yards, and ended unplayable on the backside of a giant dune not previously considered to be in play. The 20 minutes following Speith’s drive will be long discussed, as an opportunist drop between equipment trailers and then, via line of sight relief, onto the practice fairway was first considered and then conducted.
Staring at a double bogey or worse, the five Speith eventually made on the 13th hole seemed pivotal at the time, and truly heroic only moments later when he almost aced the short 14th and immediately regained his share of the lead. Speith followed the birdie on 14 with some incredible putting, and a post-bogey sequence of birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie that was good enough to separate himself from Kuchar and ensure victory.
Speith’s clutch play down the stretch Sunday will be long remembered, as the video highlights package below confirms. Aside from his first Open Championship, Speith becomes the third youngest player, after Gene Sarazen and Jack Nicklaus, to win three majors. Should he win the PGA Championship next month he would surpass Tiger Woods as the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam.
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