Jordan Spieth looked ready for a second Major meltdown, then suddenly became magnificent.
After blowing his entire three-shot lead early in the final round of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, he managed a near-impossible situation into a bogey on No. 13, then played the final five holes at 5-under to take his third career Major, leaving him one shy of completing the Grand Slam. Only he and Jack Nicklaus have won three-fourths of the Slam before age 24. Spieth will be 23 for another three days.
His final five holes, which included three birdies and a 50-foot eagle, saw Spieth rally from down a stroke to a 3-stroke win over fellow American Matt Kuchar.
Spieth earns $1.875 million with the win and is a co-favorite with Rory McIlroy for the upcoming PGA Championship. If Spieth were to win it, he would be the youngest career Slam winner in golf history.
After a tremendous save for bogey at No. 13 that put him a shot behind Kuchar, Spieth went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par to close the tournament.
His 50-foot eagle putt got Spieth back to 10-under for the first time since the second hole. Kuchar birdied the hole but still found himself a stroke behind, indicative of just how incredible Spieth’s finish was.
“Once we started playing again, I had a great shot at birdie and nearly thought my putt was going in to make a birdie there,” Kuchar said. “I didn’t lose any momentum. All of a sudden I now have a 1-shot lead after that hole in the British Open with five to go. I’m playing really well. Hitting a lot of good shots. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. And he just — he really turned it up.”
China’s Li Haotong shot an early-morning 63 to get to 6-under in the clubhouse. When Spieth was struggling early, it looked like Li might have a chance at a playoff, and was on the practice green on the back nine before Spieth’s closing shots.
Rory McIlroy, 2014 Open champion, tied for fourth with Rafa Cabrera Bello at 5-under. Five players tied for sixth at 4-under including US Open champ Brooks Koepka and South Africa’s Branden Grace, who shot a Major record 62 on Saturday.
Defending champion Henrik Stenson finished tied for 11th at 3-under.