The Open 2015

Mature Spieth steps aside

Above: Australia's Marc Leishman after missing his putt on the 18th green that would have given him victory in regulation. Left: Jordan Spieth shows his disappointment after his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round.
Jordan Spieth shows his disappointment after his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: Australia's Marc Leishman after missing his putt on the 18th green that would have given him victory in regulation. Left: Jordan Spieth shows his disappointment after his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round.
Australia's Marc Leishman after missing his putt on the 18th green that would have given him victory in regulation. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He remains gracious after historic bid fails and Johnson usurps the limelight

ST ANDREWS (Scotland) • So the dream that Jordan Spieth could add the Open to his victories in this year's Masters and US Open and sally forth to the PGA Championship next month with hopes of a clean sweep in four Majors has ended.

No more do we compare Spieth to Ben Hogan, his fellow Texan, fellow American and fellow battler, and his exploits in 1953, at least not for the time being.

Spieth's dream ended some time between 4.12pm and 6.39pm on a dreary afternoon on Monday (Tuesday morning, Singapore time).

Spieth, bruised by the breezy conditions and pelted by the rain on two holes in particular, shot three-under 69, one stroke short of joining the three-man play-off.

"It's hard to play when you look down at the ball and you're getting pelted in the face by the rain," the 21-year-old said.

BRUISED BY CONDITIONS

It's hard to play when you look down at the ball and you're getting pelted in the face by the rain.

JORDAN SPIETH, who faltered on the eighth and 17th holes to finish one stroke adrift of the three-way play-off.

Then he paused and took a breath, as if realising that this might sound like a Spieth moan, of which there have been very few.

Composing himself and speaking with as much calmness and maturity in defeat as he had shown in victory at Augusta and Chambers Bay, he said: "I played great today. Other than No. 8, I played perfect. I drove as good as at any time this year, including the Majors."

His remarkable ability on the greens, particularly in getting his first putts close to the hole, has been a strength of his game. Not this week. He three-putted five times in his second round. And though he holed a magnificent putt at the 16th, his play on the greens on Monday was not quite so accurate as he would have liked.

The truth is that the short eighth and the 17th were the holes that did it for Spieth. These were the holes that ended his chances of becoming the first man to win the first three Majors of a year.

Contrary to accepted wisdom, Hogan had not achieved this in 1953 because he did not play in the PGA Championship. In 1953, the PGA was held from July 1-7 and the Open from July 8-10 and Hogan chose to play at Carnoustie, Scotland, not Birmingham, Michigan.

Spieth was still attempting to become the first man to win the Masters, the US Open and the Open in the same year since Hogan, 62 years ago.

His tee shot on the eighth, into the teeth of the wind, was an indication that he might not do this. It blew to the right of this green 40 yards from the flagstick and nearer the hole on the 10th than the eighth. And from there Spieth took four putts, holding his head in his hands as his first putt raced 25 feet past the hole.

He recovered to birdie the ninth and the 10th. He fought tigerishly for his pars on the 12th, the 13th, the 14th and the 15th.

A huge putt disappeared on the 16th to get him to 15 under and within breathing distance of Marc Leishman and Zach Johnson up ahead. But then came the second sign that it was not to be his day.

He drove from the 17th tee to the second fairway, from where he had a shot of more than 200 yards into the wind to the green. He got to within 50 yards, threw his approach high into the air and watched as it danced around the hole before settling six feet from its target. But he did not hole this putt.

He swallowed his disappointment. Just before 8pm, he wove his way through the crowd around the 18th green at the Old Course.

"Zach!" Spieth called, wrapping Johnson in a tight embrace.

This was supposed to be Spieth's tournament, Spieth's week, Spieth's year. It was supposed to be Spieth's history. But after a long four rounds over a long five days at the British Open, there was only one thing left for Spieth to do: He hugged Johnson and stepped aside.

THE TIMES, LONDON, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Mature Spieth steps aside'. Print Edition | Subscribe