The Punter's Open Championship De-Brief: Zach wins a classic as Jordan just falls short

Zach Johnson with the Claret Jug
Zach Johnson with the Claret Jug

Steve takes a look back at today's final round at the Open Championship where Zach Johnson won a three-man playoff and Jordan Spieth's grand slam bid came to an end...

“Generally a 150.0149/1 shot, but matched before the off at a freaky high of 350.0349/1, Zach had began the final day three shots off the lead and trading at around 40.039/1 but he soon made those odds look nonsensical when he birdied seven of his first 12 holes.”

A week after trading at odds-on in the John Deere Classic, before failing by a stroke to get into the playoff won by Jordan Spieth, 39-year-old, Zach Johnson, winner of the 2007 US Masters, emerged victorious from a three-man playoff at St Andrews to win his second major championship.

Generally a 150.0149/1 shot, but matched before the off at a freaky high of 350.0349/1, Zach had began the final day three shots off the lead and trading at around 40.039/1 but he soon made those odds look nonsensical when he birdied seven of his first 12 holes.

There were many in with a chance on a dramatic and memorable Monday - Jason Day and Adam Scott both hit a low 4.03/1, Jordan Spieth was matched at just 2.68/5, and Marc Leishman hit 2.226/5 having been matched at 1000.0 on Saturday, before getting into the playoff alongside Louis Oosthuizen and Zach.

In the four hole playoff, Leishman bogeyed the first as Zach and Oosty both made birdie so he was always up against it and never looked like winning. Oosthuizen was matched at 1.715/7 when he holed before Zach at the first and he hit 1.564/7 when Zach looked in big trouble at the 17th (the third of the four extra holes) but both men made bogey and Louis failed to birdie the 18th so Zach won the playoff with a one-under-par total.

My Bets

All my pre-event picks were disappointing - even those that didn't get the worst of draw - and with ever-changing weather and a congested leaderboard throughout, it was a hard event to trade in-running, so to come away with a small profit is more than acceptable.

As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed Louis after round one at 16.015/1 and Zach during round two at 28.027/1, I could have enjoyed a bit more profit, had I not been quite so conservative, but as regulation play drew to a close I backed Leishman at an average of 3.9 and Day at 18.017/1 to guarantee a profitable outcome. It's easy to moan afterwards that I didn't go for it a bit more but I've no complaints about how I traded. I was a bit miffed that Zach won though.

I'd backed him before the off last week at the John Deere and he'd finished poorly so it was a little bit galling to see him get it done here but that's all just part of the game. I can't say I fancied him before the off this week but then I don't think he fancied his chances himself. Here's what he had to say about the venue.

"It's my least favourite in the (Open) rotation, I feel like it's one where you just gotta hit it left and you gotta hit it 290 in the air and it just doesn't favour me."

Will we see a Spieth slump?

Many will point to the four-putt double-bogey on the par 3 8th in round four as the reason Jordan Spieth came up a shot shy of the playoff today but his lack of course experience overall was the difference for me. He had never seen St Andrews before this week and he played the ultra-tough 17th in three-over par throughout the week. I'm being critical in the extreme but I thought he played that hole poorly compared to those with more experience and his lack of course knowledge cost him plenty.

The fact that he came so close is a measure of how incredibly talented he is. He's not the longest off the tee and he's not the greatest short range putter but he's an incredible talent and he will win plenty more majors and he will win Opens but will he suffer a bit of a slump after coming so close to making history?

Arnold Palmer was all set to win the first three majors of the year in 1960 but he too came up a shot shy at St Andrews, losing to Kel Nagle. He reacted by coming from way off the pace to win the Insurance City Open in a playoff within a month and he won again in the November and I expect Jordan to get back on the bike pretty sharpish too.

I'd be wary of backing him within the next two or three weeks but it won't be long before he's contending again.

Will Dustin Johnson ever win a major?

My opinion on whether Dustin Johnson will ever get across the line in a major hasn't changed after this latest disappointment. I'm still not convinced he ever will but I'll be interested to see in which direction his price moves ahead of next month's USPGA Championship.

It goes without saying he'll be desperately disappointed by his final two rounds at St Andrews - he fell from 1st to a tie for 49th with a pair of 75s - but I'm prepared to forgive it. None of the halfway leaders were able to respond and match the low scores made by the earlier starters during Sunday's third round and if he drifts markedly he may be worth risking at Whistling Straights, although early indications suggest he won't.

I'll be back tomorrow with previews for both the European Masters and the Canadian Open.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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