The British Open has ended. Finally.
After five days and two suspensions of play, Zach Johnson won the first British Open to end on a Monday since 1988, ousting Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen in a four-hole playoff. And yet, much of the post-Open chatter centers on Jordan Spieth, who came up short in his bid to win a third consecutive major, and the weather, which, well, made things rather difficult all weekend, especially Saturday.
“I think that that’s the blemish that is never going to really be overcome,” FOX Sports senior golf analyst Robert Lusetich said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Jason Day might look back on that and say, ‘Well, if you didn’t send me out there in that gale on greens that weren’t putt-able, (the outcome might have been different).’”
Day finished the extended weekend with a 274 – one stoke behind Johnson, who entered the playoff with a 273. The 27-year-old Day likely isn’t the only golfer leaving St. Andrews with a bit of frustration.
Bad weather will do that to you.
“If you’ve ever played in Scotland or Ireland or England and played on links courses, the reason that you always play on them is that they’re on sand, so it can rain and rain and rain and it just drains really well,” Lusetich explained. But the second part of it is that the greens are a very manageable maybe 8 or 9 on the stimpmeter – which, compared to championship greens in the United States, is unbelievably slow. But it’s slow by necessity. So what the R&A did was they cut those greens and then they became too fast, especially at the end of the course where there was no protection. The wind came in, and we saw what happened. Guys are unable to even mark their ball. It was blowing away when they went down to mark it.”
While some fans may have grown impatient during the five-day tournament, Lusetich felt extending play was the right move.
“It was a good decision to go to Monday,” he said. “I think it would have been a horrible decision to make these guys play 36 holes yesterday. The other part of it is – and I’m glad they did this – they could have started them on split tees. St. Andrews, however, is a golf course that has an appreciably easier front nine than back nine. So if you get through the back nine and now you’re playing the front nine as your last nine, well, that puts you at an advantage. Let’s say the weather comes in and people are playing the back nine in bad weather, then they get the front nine and the good weather. (It wouldn’t be) very fair.”
Getting back to the players, Spieth, like Day, fell one stroke shy of the playoff. He was vying for a single-season Grand Slam, but his second-round 72 did him in at the Open.
Not that there’s a whole lot of shame in that.
“I would say that no one in the history of golf has ever had six three-puts and a four-putt and been within one wedge of getting in a playoff to win a major,” Lusetich said. “So there’s only upside for Jordan Spieth. He’s 21. He doesn’t know when to quit. He is as courageous a golfer as I’ve ever seen. He’s got a lot of guts. It wasn’t his week mainly on the greens, which is ironic because he is, I believe, the best putter in the world. He makes 20-foot putts. The last guy I’ve seen make this many 20-foot putts was Tiger Woods – and he did it for a lot of years and he was obviously one of the all-time greats, if not the greatest to play the game. But Spieth is amazing from 20 feet. What’s interesting is that he is not as solid from five, six, seven feet – and that was the putt that he missed on 17. I think he’d like to have that putt back.”
In the end, it was Johnson winning his second major instead of Spieth winning his third. Still, with three top-five major finishes in 2015, the Dallas native figures to be an early favorite for the PGA Championship in August.
“We’ll be seeing a lot more of Jordan Spieth,” Lusetich said. “He’s 21 years old. He’s not going anywhere.”