On the back of a roller-coaster 1-under 69 and one of the most enteraining back nines of his career, Jordan Spieth won the 146th Open Championship on Sunday by three strokes over Matt Kuchar. Here’s how Spieth emerged from the practice area’s equipment trailers to claim the claret jug on Sunday at Royal Birkdale:
Leaderboard (click here for full field scores): Spieth (-12), Kuchar (-9), Haotong Li (-6), Rory McIlroy (-5), Cabrera Bello (-5), Matthew Southgate (-4), Marc Leishman (-4), Alex Noren (-4)
The Champion Golfer of the Year: The win gives Spieth his 11th career Tour victory, his third major championship, and the third leg of the career Grand Slam. He did not make it easy on himself. Spieth squandered his three-shot lead in four holes and went to the back nine tied with Kuchar at 8 under after going out in 3-over 37. Still tied at 8 under through 12, Spieth played one of the most unforgettable holes in golf history at 13. After sailing his drive into a dune, he took an unplayable, walked onto the adjacent practice area, took relief from the parked equipment trailers and somehow – over the course of a half-hour – made bogey. Seemingly refocused and re-energized by the ordeal, he followed up with a birdie at the par-3 14th and an eagle at the par-5 15th and another birdie at the par-4 16th to take a two-shot lead with two to play. Thanks to yet another birdie at 17 and a par at 18, Spieth played his final five holes in 5 under to win by three – the same margin he started with on Sunday. He is now just one of two players – along with Jack Nicklaus – to win his third different major before the age of 24. He will have his first chance to complete the slam in three weeks at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
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The runner-up: While Spieth performed his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine, Kuchar made four birdies and three bogeys en route to a steady, workmanlike 1-under 69. This is the 39-year-old’s best ever finish in a major and his fourth career major top-5. In the last year, Kuchar has walked away with both an Olympic bronze medal and The Open’s silver salver.
Round of the day: Li fired the 32nd round of 63 in major championship history to go from 12 shots back to start the day to solo third. Li was bogey-free Sunday and birdied each of his final four holes. The 21-year-old 107th-ranked player in the world just earned his first Masters invite.
Best of the rest: Aaron Baddeley posted 6 under, but McIlroy, Leishman and Southgate all used rounds of 65 to finish in the top 10. Southgate, who overcame cancer two years ago, has made it into the field via Final Qualifying the last two years in a row, but won’t need to worry about doing so next year. His T-6 finish exempts him into The 2018 Open at Carnoustie.
Shot of the day: Spieth’s eagle at the 15th to retake the lead he’d never again relinquish.
Drop of the day: Spieth’s European vacation at 13: