Jordan Spieth - A+
We’ll be watching replays of that shot from behind the tour trucks on the driving range for years to come. At only 23 years of age, Jordan Spieth now has three major wins to his name – amassed in just 19 starts – and requires only a US PGA Championship to become just the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam. Since his collapse at the 2016 Masters, people have lined up at one time or another to criticise his ball-striking, his technique, his mental strength under pressure, his ‘fidgetiness’. They can now, with the greatest of respect, sit down and shut up. This kid is a marvel and he’s already got one foot (and a fair chunk of the other) in the Hall of Fame. Honourable mention for his caddie, Michael Greller, too. Deserves a huge chunk of credit for steadying his man after a decidedly ropey start to his final round.
"George" - A
Found Jordan’s hitherto lost ball on the 13th, in doing so saving a round (and a championship) that was threatening to get away from the American. We salute you, George. You are proof that not all heroes wear capes
Kuch - A
Really didn’t do much wrong, did he? In the end, he was just out-golfed down the stretch by someone who looks destined to become one of the game’s all-time greats. Absolutely no shame in that.
Rory - B+
Whisper it… he’s back. Look out Quail Hollow. [N.B. Did not expect to be writing that after six holes of the first round.]
J.P. Fitzgerald - A-
Rory’s caddie has come in for some heavy criticism over the years and often undeservedly so. He showed why is such a fine foil for his man when, with McIlroy five-over after six holes of the championship and looking good for a third consecutive missed cut, he gave him the mother of all pep talks. “You’re Rory McIlroy,” fumed J.P. “What the f*** are you doing?” Rory proceeded to play the next 66 holes in 10-under, finishing in a tie for fourth. Caddying isn’t just about carrying your player’s clubs, giving them numbers and tending pins; it’s about knowing them better than they know themselves. That’s a skill, a talent – and J.P. has it in spades. Nine words. Nine words that could get Rory’s season back on track. Chapeau, sir.
The course - B+
For all of the inane chatter that it wasn’t long enough/tough enough/firm enough, only 21 players finished in red numbers at Royal Birkdale. More than good enough.
The Scottish Open - B+
Seven of the top ten (including champ Rafa Cabrera Bello) played at Dundonald Links the week prior. Say what you like about the tournament or the courses it visits but there can be no denying ‘The Scottish’ continues to be the perfect support act to the main event.
This outfit - A
‘Twas funny to listen to the usual media grumps – hardly great bastions of high fashion – waxing lyrical about the bold ensemble modelled by Justin Thomas in the first round. The consensus seemed to fall somewhere between horror and derision. Personally, I loved it. Smart and stylish, unlike the baggy, beige ‘polos and pants’ combos that were de rigeur in the nineties. Nice to see Thomas have the last laugh, too, carding a three-under 67. Of course, the less said about the 80 in the second round, wearing altogether more traditional garb, the better…
Mr 62 - A+
Forget the absolute drivel you might have read about Branden Grace’s record-breaking third round 62 requiring an asterisk because (a) conditions were easy on Saturday and (b) it occurred on a par-70 course. In 442 previous men’s major championships – during which time there were often equally favourable conditions and, shock horror, other par-70 courses – nobody had ever broken 63. Irrespective of all conceivable 'buts', Grace did something no other male golfer had done before. Something that, in spite of those ‘easy’ conditions, no other player in the field was capable of getting within two shots of that day. Instead of over-analysing Grace’s achievement, we should be applauding it. The guy made history. End of discussion.
Past champions - C
Three-quarters (12 out of the 16) of them missed the cut. Seven of those won the championship more than a decade ago. Time for the R&A to revise its “play until you’re 60” exemption for former winners? A ten-year pass would surely be enough of a reward.
235,000 golf fans - A+
The best attended Open in England and third best attended on record – yet some people would have you believe the game is on a relentless death march. Not so, naysayers. Not so.
Mike Parry - F-
One half of TalkSPORT attention-seekers The Two Mikes, Parry used his show on Saturday to suggest that Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston is a ‘clown’. Actually, his exact words were: “He forms himself like a clown, stays as a clown, looks like a clown, performs like a clown and is referred to as a clown.” So, when Beef replied, calling him a ‘d*******’, hardly anybody disagreed. Beef is an odd target to pick on, a guy who signs every autograph, poses for every photo, cheerfully acknowledges anybody and everybody who gives him a supportive cheer. More to the point, he can play. Parry’s obnoxious ‘observation’ is the kind of deliberately unpopular, controversial take that folk like him resort to in a vainglorious attempt to be something they have never been and will never be: relevant. What an idiot.
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