Jordan Spieth showed remarkable resilience and skill to bounce back from a poor start to his final round in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale and secure a victory that ensured he joined the pantheon of Champion Golfers of the Year.
A record-breaking crowd of 235,000 spectators were enthralled by events at Royal Birkdale, as Spieth moved to within one win of a grand slam of majors and, by the age of 23, had the Masters, the US Open and The Open crowns to his name.
Only Jack Nicklaus has been quicker to win three of golf’s most coveted titles. Whereas Nicklaus achieved the feat in his 16th major, Spieth was playing at Birkdale in his 19th, while Tiger Woods took one more.
“I don't compare myself (to Woods or Nicklaus),” explained Spieth. “And I don't think comparisons are appropriate or necessary. To be in that company, no doubt, is absolutely incredible. And I certainly appreciate it.
“But I'm very careful as to what that means going forward because what those guys have done has transcended the sport. And in no way, shape or form do I think I'm anywhere near that. It's a good start but there is a long way to go.”
Despite leading The Open after each of the first three rounds, the American found himself behind on the leaderboard for the first time after an eventful 13th hole of the final round and trailed compatriot Matt Kuchar by one stroke.
What happened next was the stuff of legend; Spieth proceeded to birdie the par-three 14th, where he almost had a hole in one, ran in a putt of around 40 feet at the 15th for an eagle, birdied the 16th from around 20 feet, and rolled in another good putt for a birdie at the 17th. It was golf that belied what had gone beforehand.
A par on the 72nd hole enabled the 23-year-old to sign off for a round of 69, a 12-under-par total of 268 and a winning margin of three strokes over Kuchar.
During the third round, Branden Grace of South Africa fired eight birdies to post the first ever round of 62 during a major.
Alfie Plant of England followed in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the Silver Medal as the leading amateur who plays all four rounds of The Open.