Spieth so close to historical treble
When Jordan Spieth holed an enormous 60-foot birdie putt on the 16TH green of the final round to draw level with the leaders, it seemed certain that the precocious 21-year-old was ready to stand on the shoulders of giants.
No golfer had won the first three Major Championships of the year since Ben Hogan in 1953 and yet, on the brink of doing just that following his victories in the Masters and US Open earlier in the year, the American seemed motivated by the prospect rather than fearful of failure.
But The Old Course bites and its penultimate hole, The Road Hole, bites hardest.
Spieth made bogey, lost the lead and he failed to make the birdie he needed on the last to join the play-off.
“That was as hard a par four as we've played all year,” he said of 17 after his round.
“All of a sudden, on my second shot, it started raining. It was something like 240-yards to the green and a tough little lie. I was trying to sting a 3-iron. I didn't leave it in a bad spot when I missed the green, but I couldn't make par.”
Faced with chasing birdie on the last he pulled his drive far to the left.
“Just a very poorly placed drive and I was not able to hit my lob wedge in there when I needed to have great control,” he said before wryly adding: “Who would have thought a drive on 18 was going to be what really hurt me at the end here? It's kind of hard not to hit a good one there.”
His biggest error came on the par-three eighth, soon after he had made three birdies to reach 14-under-par, right 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.”
He putted the ball clean off the green and eventually made double bogey.
“If you make bogey you're still in it. If you make double bogey it's a difficult hill to climb.”
Difficult it might have been but he did climb that hill: he immediately birdied nine and ten to atone, and when the roars echoed across the course in appreciation of his birdie on 16 he was favourite to win, but 17 killed the dream.
“I'm very pleased with the way we battled because today was a really tough day.”
History never held him down.
“When that putt on 16 went in none of the historical stuff came through my head whatsoever.
“I made a lot of right decisions down the stretch and I've certainly closed plenty of tournaments out, this just wasn't one of them. I won't beat myself up too bad because I do understand it's hard to do every single time.
“My number for the day was to shoot four-under. I did not expect guys to get to 15-under in today's conditions. I did not see that happening. There was some phenomenal golfer by everyone.”
He was on the brink of something special, he rued not getting closer, but Spieth leaves the home of golf ready to re-establish his goals.
“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.”