Top 5 Chip Shots from The Open
Links golf is viewed as golf’s toughest challenge, with a battle against the elements as well as the course.
Those who emerge victorious often do so having displayed a deft touch and unnerving accuracy when it matters most. At The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale we saw several quality chip shots. Here’s a rundown of our favourites:
5. Andrew Johnston
Everywhere Andrew Johnston goes, he commands a crowd and that helped make his moment of magic in the first round that much more special. The Englishman’s second shot on the par four 6th landed just right of the green and left him with a dangerous-looking chip – his par was almost certainly gone if he did not get it pin point. The 6th proved to be the hardest hole on the course when Royal Birkdale hosted The Open in 2008 but ‘Beef’ stylishly pitched the ball in, landing it perfectly on the green and slowing the ball up just enough to roll gently into the hole. He went onto shoot a 69 and finished the tournament tied 27th.
4. Haydn McCullen
Cheshire golfer Haydn McCullen was not a household name before tackling Royal Birkdale but those who saw him take on the 10th hole in round 1 will certainly remember him. Stuck in a tough position in the first cut just off the green and with little space left of the pin to land the ball, McCullen was in face-saving mode. But he delicately landed the ball onto the right-leading slope and watched as it gently meandered its way in – much to his, and the crowd’s, delight.
3. Jordan Spieth
It is not The Open Championship without a thunderstorm and Jordan Spieth was caught in a huge one on the second day. Playing alongside 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson, Spieth’s assault threatened to unravel as the rain came bucketing down and his approach shot to the par 4 10th left him high on the bank and facing a tricky chip to save par. However, Spieth has a feel around the greens not dissimilar to Phil Mickelson in his pomp and the American kept his focus, landed his chip in the first cut off the green and watched it roll in to spark wild celebrations. It was undoubtedly a major moment for Spieth, who would go on to become Champion Golfer of the Year.
2. Matt Kuchar
Standing at 6ft 4in tall, you may think the short game does not compliment Matt Kuchar’s power but the 39-year-old has a soft pair of hands – as he displayed on the tricky 451-yard 3rd. His approach shot left him slightly short of the green but he used its contours to guide the ball from right to left and into the hole – sparking mass cries of “Kuuuuch” from the crowd. The American was supreme all week and went onto finish second to compatriot Spieth, ending three shots back on -9.
1. Rory McIlroy
Entering the third round, Rory McIlroy was sitting five shots off the pace following a superb second-round 68 and with the bit between his teeth. Off the tee, however, he struggled as the wind picked up and on the tricky par-three 4th he fired left of the green. With the hole unsighted and facing a tough uphill approach, McIlroy was left blinded when he neatly chipped the ball left of the pin and over the crest of a bunker. Unbeknown to him, the ball reached the top of the slope, almost stopped before picking up pace as it trundled downhill and, egged on by the huge crowd, dropped into the hole. It was a moment of genius from the 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year and is a moment that will go down in Open Championship folklore.