Jordan Spieth nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but in the end the Texan grasped the prized Claret Jug by winning the 146th British Open on Sunday in a thrilling final round against fellow American and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Matt Kuchar.
After entering the day with a nearly unbeatable 3-stroke lead over Kuchar at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, Spieth almost hit disaster by going four-over par through the first 13 holes to trail Kuchar by a stroke.
But the 23-year-old Spieth, who joined Jack Nicklaus as only the second man to win three legs of the Grand Slam before turning 24, eagled on No. 15 to regain the lead and shot an otherworldly 5-under-par over the final four holes to clinch the victory.
Spieth and Kuchar both finished at 1-under-par 69 on the final round. Spieth shot 268 (65-69-65-69) to win by three strokes over Kuchar, who finished 9-under-par at 271 (65-71-66-69).
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Spieth bogeyed four times on the front nine on the final day. He bogeyed again on the par-4 No. 13 in a hole that took a half hour to play after he consulted with rules officials before taking an unplayable that sent him back to the driving range parallel to the hole. With the bogey, Spieth fell behind for the first time in the four rounds.
He and the 39-year-old Kuchar both birdied No. 14 before Spieth sank a 48-foot put to make eagle and retake the lead on No. 15. Spieth then birdied on both No. 16 and No. 17 to extend his lead to two strokes going into the final hole. Spieth made par on No. 18 while Kuchar finished with a bogey.
With the British Open victory, Spieth now has won three of the four majors in men’s golf, with only the PGA Championship title missing from his résumé. This year’s PGA Championship is Aug. 7-13 at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina.
Kuchar’s fellow U.S. Olympians, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson finished tied for 22nd and 27th, respectively. Fowler shot even-par 280 over the four rounds (71-71-67-71) and Watson was one-over at 281 (68-72-71-70) on the 7,156-yard, par-70 setup.Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.