The Punter's De-Brief: Spieth gets out of jail at Birkdale

Will Spieth follow up at Caroustie?
Will Spieth follow up at Caroustie?

Jordan Spieth has won the Open championship and victory at Quail Hollow next month will see him win the career grand slam at just 24 but how close did he come to disaster yesterday? Read our man's look back at the 146th Open Championship here...

"I’m not sure it’s possible to fathom out what happened yesterday, but for what it’s worth, I think Spieth turned it all around because of the debacle at 13. The time it took to sort the ruling gave him the opportunity to reboot and running up and down the dunes worked out to be a great way to rid him of all the tension that had clearly built."

The Open Championship pre-tournament favourite, Jordan Spieth, who was picked out by Sarah Stirk before the off, has won the 146th Open Championship, beating Dave Tindall's each-way fancy, Matt Kuchar. But not before giving his backers an almighty scare.

Spieth went into yesterday's fourth and final round with a three-stroke lead. He was trading at around 1.351/3 and it looked like being a case of how many shots he'd win by, but after an unlucky break off the tee, when his ball hung up in the rough on a slope, he bogeyed the opening hole and that seemed to set the tone.

Spieth missed a number of short putts early on and he admitted afterwards that his collapse at Augusta last year, where more than £1 million had been matched at 1.121/8 and below, before he lost his way on the back-nine, had been on his mind. His game was clearly ragged and when he hit the most horrendous drive on the par four 13th hole, when tied for the lead with Kuchar, he drifted right out and momentarily hit 5.04/1.

Kuchar, who was generally a 70.069/1 chance before the off, was matched at a low of 1.341/3 when it looked highly likely that he'd take a two-shot lead to the 14th tee, but Spieth's ability to think rationally and use the rules to his advantage, rather than panic, as well has his capacity to pull of the most brilliant recovery shots, meant that he was able to make a miraculous bogey five when a six at least had looked odds-on.

From there, Spieth went into overdrive, playing the next four holes in five-under-par. It was the most remarkable turnaround in fortune I've ever witnessed and I'm not convinced I'll see the likes again.

Tiger Woods used to be able to make the impossible seem routine but the difference with Woods is he wouldn't ever play as badly as Spieth did yesterday. I can't ever recall Woods playing so poorly with a lead but then I don't think Woods ever got as nervous as Spieth.

I'm not sure it's possible to fathom what happened yesterday, but for what it's worth, I think Spieth turned it all around because of the debacle at 13. The time it took to sort the ruling gave him the opportunity to reboot and running up and down the dunes worked out to be a great way to rid him of all the tension that had clearly built.

What happened after his tension releasing run-a-round and reboot was truly remarkable and something we're all lucky to have witnessed. Although I'm not quite sure Kuchar and his backers would agree. The 39-year-old did nothing wrong yesterday and I couldn't help but feel for him.

As for Spieth, that bogey putt on the 13th hole could turn out to be the most important he's ever made. Maybe he'd have still recovered had he recorded a six instead of a five there, but I'm not so sure. He said afterwards that all him and his caddy, Michael Greller, were concentrating on was avoiding making a double-bogey six and I just wonder what effect that putt had on the result and even on his entire career.

"Closing today was extremely important for the way I look at myself."
he said afterwards. Had he not rebounded like he did, he'd have woken up this morning with scars on top of scars after the Augusta meltdown on the last occasion he had a chance of major success.

Spieth's new levels of self-belief could make him become far more ruthless in-the-mix. Tiger-esque even.


My Bets

I finished the week in front but it was far from what I'd hoped for.

As detailed in the In-Play Blog, although I didn't back him to win as such, I got Spieth onside as early as Friday by trading him back and fore but profits were diluted by stray bullets on Hideki Matsuyama and Gary Woodland on Saturday and taking on Kuchar in the place markets proved a pointless exercise too.

I did some more trading yesterday in-running but all I did was make things worse. I'd been against Kuchar up until yesterday but I got him onside after he and Spieth drew level so I ended up losing on the event.

I had high hopes of my sole pick at the Barbasol Championship, Scott Stallings, who I'd backed at 35/1 and 34.033/1 on the exchange, but it wasn't to be. Having been matched at just 1.538/15 as he stood over a four foot birdie putt on the 11th, which would have seen him go two clear, he ended up playing the last eight holes in one-over-par to finish tied for third but he did at least put me back in front for the week.

I layed Stallings before the final round at 2.68/5 and again in-running at 1.910/11 and 1.75/7. Of course, once he was beat I was wishing I'd layed more back but I can't complain. It was frustrating to see him fail but at least he'd traded short.

Pre-tournament 50.049/1 chance, Grayson Murray, went on to win but not before Tag Ridings was also matched at heavy odds-on.


What Have We Learned This Week?

Spieth went against the trends because he hadn't played anywhere since he'd won the Travelers Championship three weeks previously and I thought that was a huge negative. I also thought the fact that he was playing in only his second US Masters was a negative when he won there in 2015 so I guess the lesson for me here is that he's Jordan Spieth, is cut from a very different cloth and can very easily rip up the history books. That said, I still think playing in the Scottish Open the week before is a massive plus and seven of the top-ten had played at Dundonald Links.

I was also interested to see how those that had played in the Irish Open two weeks before, but not Scotland, would fare and the answer is, not great. Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood didn't really figure at all. Hideki Matsuyama did but he surprisingly fell away in round four.

We off to Germany on the European Tour this week for the European Open and the PGA Tour makes its annual foray north for the RBC Canadian Open. I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.



*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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