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Jordan Spieth Edges Matt Kuchar to Win 2017 British Open

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2017

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23:  Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates a birdie on the 14th hole during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Jordan Spieth overcame a rocky start on Sunday, shooting a 69 to finish 12-under and claim his first title at the tournament. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

✔️ Champion Golfer of the Year ✔️ Three-time major champion ✔️ #FedExCup leader ✔️ Still 23 years old @JordanSpieth has won #TheOpen https://t.co/HYdupBm0Nr

Spieth opened with bogeys on Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 9 before a wild tee shot on No. 13 put him nearly 100 yards off course and forced him to take a shot next to a truck.

That allowed Matt Kuchar—who came into Sunday's final round three strokes behind Spieth—to temporarily take the lead. But Spieth recovered in remarkable fashion, posting three birdies and an eagle on his next four holes to steal the championship back from Kuchar.

After his victory, Spieth held up the Claret Jug and joked about how he feared he had jinxed himself earlier in his career.

"Drank some wine out of this when Zach Johnson won it," he said, per Jason Sobel of ESPN.com. "People told me that was bad luck. I started to believe them."

Kuchar finished second at 9-under, and Haotong Li was a distant third at 6-under. Rory McIlroy and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for fourth at seven strokes back, while Matthew Southgate, Marc Leishman, Alex Noren, Branden Grace and Brooks Koepka tied for sixth, eight strokes off the lead.

The story without question was Spieth's remarkable turnaround after his dismal start, however. Sobel believes it will long remain an integral part of Spieth lore: 

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

Tremendous day of golf. Final six holes the stuff of legend. When the story of Spieth's career is written, this will be a major chapter.

Mike Greenberg of ESPN.com agreed: 

Mike Greenberg @Espngreeny

I have no idea how to describe what we are seeing from Jordan Spieth here. This is the stuff of legend. #BritishOpen

Even golfing legend Jack Nicklaus was impressed: 

Jack Nicklaus @jacknicklaus

Wow! What a wild back nine! Is @JordanSpieth something else?

And Spieth now resides alongside Nicklaus:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jordan Spieth joins Jack Nicklaus in golfing history. 👏 https://t.co/YwHoTL8HX7

To recover from a 3-over front nine and one of the poorest tee shots you'll ever see took a resilience not many golfers possess.

The PGA Tour shared the mishit:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Things are getting a little more interesting on the 13th hole at #TheOpen https://t.co/M0fQwZ72Tx

Spieth took nearly 30 minutes with tour officials to figure out from where he would take his next shot. He settled on this location:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Spieth escapes with a bogey, but now trails Matt Kuchar by one at #TheOpen. https://t.co/SP5C2P7dni

There will be questions about how much the delay affected the rhythm of Kuchar, who had to wait quite a while before taking his next shot.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports wasn't sure that was fair to Kuchar:

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

Kuchar might only pick up one shot on Spieth here, which isn't really a fair trade for having to wait 30 minutes between shots at a major.

Spieth apologized to Kuchar after the hole, however, per Oliver Holt of the Daily Mail.

From there, Spieth was nearly perfect.

He birdied No. 14:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

That didn't take long. @JordanSpieth regains a share of #TheOpen lead after making birdie on No. 14. https://t.co/dzT0k6UGuW

He made a ridiculous eagle on No. 15: 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

WHAT. A. PUTT. https://t.co/9M7x1heOSY

And with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, Spieth took a two-shot lead into the final hole. He finished his round with a par, and Kuchar—who birdied Nos. 15 and 17 himself to keep pace with the torrid Spieth—finally ran out of gas, closing with a bogey.

And just like that, Spieth took back the title he nearly gave away. 

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

"This is absolutely a dream come true." -@JordanSpieth https://t.co/Gj3lToXZLf

Shane Bacon of the Fox Sports was impressed with the mental toughness Spieth displayed after his nearly disastrous evening: 

Shane Bacon @shanebacon

Being the greatest of your generation isn't about power or putting or iron play - it's all upstairs. That's Jordan Spieth. Mentally superior

Kevin Negandhi of ESPN, meanwhile, appreciated Spieth for a more humorous reason: 

Kevin Negandhi @KNegandhiESPN

I admire Spieth's ability to show us the entire course while working the full range of emotions. What a back 9.

Spieth will head into next month's PGA Championship looking to win that tournament for the first time and become just the sixth golfer in history to achieve a career Grand Slam. He would also be the youngest player to achieve that distinction, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Given his remarkable turnaround on Sunday and his three major titles at the age of 23, Spieth potentially adding another achievement to his already storied career would surprise exactly no one.

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