SOUTHPORT – Jordan Spieth survived a roller-coaster final round at the British Open to emerge with his third major title, beating fellow American Matt Kuchar by three strokes in a thrilling duel at Royal Birkdale on Sunday.
Spieth carded a one-under-par round of 69 to finish on 12-under for the tournament but, after three days of consistent golf by the American, it was a remarkable day of highs and lows for the 23-year-old.
The Texan began the day with a three-stroke lead, but saw that evaporate on the front nine, where he made four bogeys and a birdie to enter the turn sharing the lead with Kuchar on eight-under.
The drama began when Spieth drove wildly into the dunes on the 13th hole.
He was forced to take a penalty stroke after deeming the ball ‘unplayable’.
And after some confusion and a lengthy series of deliberations, he played his second shot from the edge of the practice range next to the television trucks.
Spieth scrambled to make a creditable bogey out of the par-four hole, but that still handed the lead to Kuchar, who was playing the more solid golf as the wind rose and temperature fell.
However, the sight of his rival alone at the top of the leaderboard appeared to click a switch in Spieth, who responded with a birdie on the par-three 14th, where he was close to a hole-in-one.
Spieth then brilliantly sank a 45-yard putt to eagle the par-five 15th, and followed that with two more birdies on the 16th and 17th.
Spieth, who won the US Masters and US Open in 2015, has joined Jack Nicklaus to become one of only two players to win three legs of the career grand slam before turning 24.
Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his third different major.
* The leading South African was Branden Grace, who finished tied for sixth on four-under-par after shooting even-par 70 on Sunday.
-12 Jordan Spieth (USA)
-9 Matt Kuchar (USA)
-6 Li Haotong (China)
-5 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spain)
-4 Branden Grace (RSA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Marc Leishman (Australia), Alex Noren (Sweden), Matthew Southgate (England)Reuters