It wasn’t quite the Duel in the Sun or last year’s epic Sunday between Phil and Henrik Stenson, but the show put on at Royal Birkdale by Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth was nothing short of incredible.
For Kuchar, Sunday ended in yet another major disappointment — for Spieth, his third major triumph. And probably his most impressive.
For those who either didn’t get up in time (for shame) or were otherwise unavoidably detained on Sunday afternoon, Jordan Spieth turned a mediocre day into the third leg of the career grand slam. After coming to the 14th tee at +4 for the day and -7 under for the tournament – two shots behind Kuchar — Spieth embarked on one of the most incredible finishes in major championship history.
However, while that was all happening, there were plenty of others having no good, rotten, terrible days and weeks. It wouldn’t be an Open Championship if that weren’t the case.
Here’s a look at those who had weeks to remember — and those who spent their Sunday nights drinking to forget:
Jordan Spieth — It’s hard to put into words how special it is to see a player like Jordan Spieth in the prime of his career, taking names and kicking ass. On Sunday, Spieth was in a rare form, turning in a clutch performance for the ages; one that could be called — dare I say — Tiger-esque. Three birdies and an eagle in four of his last five holes turned a two-shot deficit into a three-shot victory.
Matt Kuchar — It may not have been the disappointment of the Masters in 2012, but Sunday’s runner-up will sting a bit for Kuchar. While the second place finish at Royal Birkdale is the best finish for Kuchar in a major, it’s not like he gave it away — it was in the palm of his hands and he had it snatched away by an epic performance. For fantasy owners, it was quintessential Kuchar — no win, but a great fantasy performance.
Marc Leishman — Remember the name, Marc Leishman, because in the near future, this guy could be a major champion. In his last four Opens, Leishman has collected a T-5, a T-2 and a T-6 this year at Royal Birkdale. For Lieshman, it was his fourth career top-5 in a major. For fantasy owners, it was a pleasant boost to their rosters. I won’t say it was a surprise, however, since I told you he’d have a good week this time last week.
Xander Schauffele — Probably the best bet headed into the week was Xander Schauffele, getting 200/1 money. And while he didn’t win the Open and pay off big, he did have an OK fantasy week. Schauffele bookended rounds of 75 and 70 with 69 and a brilliant 65 on Sunday to get to one-under for the championship and collect a T-20 finish, adding to what has already been a remarkable rookie campaign.
Ian Poulter — For a guy who thought he lost his Tour card just a handful of week backs, Ian Poulter has been playing some great golf as of late. At the Open, he looked like he was going to contest again at Royal Birkdale as he did in 2008. Unfortunately, for Poulter, he chased his brilliant Thursday 67 with three rounds in the 70’s. While it wasn’t a terrible showing, many expected Poulter to rekindle that magic from ’08 and it just didn’t happen.
Rickie Fowler — Another major, another average performance by Rickie Fowler. Some day, have no doubt, Fowler will win a major title. But it still appears that he isn’t quite ready to hoist the trophy at a major. Fowler was average all week long, shooting 71-71-67-71.
Justin Thomas — Many believed that Justin Thomas would exact a dose of revenge from the golf gods for his U.S. Open loss. Unfortunately, they had more BS in store for JT. Following an opening round 67, Thomas fell prey to the miserable afternoon weather and the bad side of the draw and shot 80 on Friday, missing the cut by two strokes.
Phil Mickelson — It was a popular pre-tournament pick, but Phil Mickelson turned out to be a bust in his first major championship without Bones on the bag. Mickelson opened with 73 and stumbled to a 77 on Sunday, yielding his second missed cut in his last 10 Open Championship starts.