Day 4 at the Open with Denis Kriwan


By Denis Kirwan

The back nine of golf’s majors seldom fail to provide drama of the highest order. Today, though, was truly exceptional. For Jordan Spieth to squander a three-shot lead and to then carve his drive 100 yards to the right and end up playing his third shot from the practice ground would surely have made him believe that the golfing Gods were having a proper laugh at his expense. To then hit a 3-iron from a position where you had no clue of the exact yardage and to make a miracle up and down for the best bogey he will ever make in his career must have psychologically felt like an albatross. To then play the next four holes in five under par with everything on the line was one of the most incredible stretches of holes you will ever see played in any golf tournament. It was certainly worthy of winning an Open Championship. Spieth had blown a five-shot lead with nine holes to play in the 2016 Masters and you would think that harrowing experience would have come back to haunt him when he was placed firmly behind the 8-ball. Not a bit of it. Spieth magnificently rose to the occasion. He has now won three legs of golf’s holy grail, the Grand Slam, four days before his 24th birthday. Only Jack Nicklaus managed to do it at a younger age. Impressive stuff. Not only is Jordan Spieth a wonderful golfer, more importantly, he is really decent human being. That Jesuit education didn’t do him a bit of harm at all.

In golf, first is first and second is usually nowhere. Well, in this case, it’s actually worth over a million dollars. Matt Kuchar now has another million to add to the forty or so he has already earned over the course of his career. Nobody, however, remembers you for your cheques banked but for the medals you have pinned to your chest. Kuchar did nothing wrong today. He got beaten by a large dose of inspiration. He can take comfort in that. His day may well come. He is playing so well, it would be no surprise if he only has to wait another few weeks and breaks his duck at Quail Hollow. Kuchar was also impressively magnanimous in defeat. Golf is very lucky to have such quality actors on its biggest stage.

Arnold Palmer once said that golf is a game that is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. That certainly sums up Rory McIlroy’s game at present. When he’s ‘on’, nobody strikes the ball better, yet for the past few weeks, this game has become a bit of a Rubik’s Cube for him. He gets something right. Something else goes out of kilter. He can take some encouragement from the way he fought back from being five over after six holes on the opening day to finish tied 4th at the end of the tournament. Golf needs all of the Big 4 – Spieth, Johnson, Day and McIlroy, to be firing on all cylinders. Needs them all trying to avoid the dreaded “Ringo” tag.

Meanwhile, the stewards at the Open Championship all wore bright tangerine jackets and quite a few players were upset as they were catching their eye when lining up putts etc. Shane Lowry said they were ‘horrendous’. Then lo and behold, Rory comes out today in support of the much-maligned stewards by wearing a tangerine top paired with tangerine soled shoes and a tangerine scorecard holder. His playing partner Ross Fisher had to wear two pairs of sunglasses. Those of us who have ever played with Keith Cooney will know exactly how he felt.

As a final thought, we all have our own individual ways of getting our ball around the golf course. Some are more unconventional than others. Eamonn Darcy had a swing like a chimpanzee falling out of a tree, yet he had a hugely successful career. As our own Jim ‘The Clock’ Reynolds can testify, it’s not how, it’s how many. Bubba. Beef. Boo. Individual styles. Same goals. Get a small spherical object into a small spherical cup. Simple really. Yet endlessly complicated. As Lee Trevino once said “Columbus went around the world in 1492. Not a bad score when you consider the course”