• Zach Johnson defeats Oosthuizen and Leishman to win the Open
• Shot one-under-par in the four-hole play-off to lift Claret Jug
• Had earlier set clubhouse target of 15-under after long putt on 18
ZACH JOHNSON | THE OPEN
Zach Johnson landed his second major title and his first for eight years after defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a four-hole play-off at the Open.
The 39-year-old, whose only other major success came at the 2007 Masters, birdied the first two play-off holes, a margin his opponents couldn’t reel in with South African Oosthuizen, the Open champion in 2010 at St Andrews, seeing his birdie putt at the 18th clip the left edge of the hole.
Johnson had earlier set the clubhouse target of 15-under-par after a magnificent 25-foot birdie putt at the last helped him bounce back after a bogey at the 17th, which he also bogeyed in the play-off, but luckily for him, so did Oosthuizen and Leishman.
"It's beyond surreal" - Zach Johnson
"I knew in the play-off that you had to get after the first and second holes and I made two good putts to get to two-under," said Zach Johnson. "The keys out there were patience and perseverance and I knew I had to make the most of the opportunity because Oosthuizen and Leishman wouldn't slip up.
"These are the things you dream about, the things you work towards and I'm humbled because there are a lot of individuals who have helped put me in this position and trusted me. I'm also humbled seeing the names that are etched on the Claret Jug. It's the who's who of the game, it's the guys that paved the way, it's the individuals that are historic in sport, so it's beyond surreal."
Oosthuizen, who, like Johnson birdied the first play-off hole, couldn’t match the American on the second, with a missed par putt on 17 and a birdie chance at 18 meaning back-to-back titles at the Home of Golf slipped from his grasp.
"I made great putts coming in to be in the play-off but misread 17 and 18 once I was there and there wasn't much more I could've done other than that," said Oosthuizen. "The front nine was crucial, everyone was scoring on it but I went through in two-under and the back nine was tough."
Leishman, meanwhile, reached the play-off by going 14-under-par for his final two rounds, but was out of contention from the first hole, which he bogeyed to sit two back.
Jordan Spieth’s hopes of making history by becoming the first player to win the first three majors of the year since Ben Hogan in 1953 were alive until the 72nd hole.
The 21-year-old produced an astonishing putt on the 16th to join the leaders on 15-under but slipped up, like so many, on the Road Hole, with a bogey knocking him straight back. And with birdie needed at the last, his uphill putt from the front of the green went inches to the left of the cup.
Finishing alongside Spieth on 14-under was Jason Day, who was bogey-free for his two-under-par 70 but left his putt short on the 18th to count himself out of a play-off spot, while fellow Aussie Adam Scott held the lead on 15-under-par in the early stages of the back nine but finished five-over for his final five holes to sit T10.
The Silver Medal went to American Jordan Niebrugge, whose 11-under-par total was enough to see off the challenge of Ollie Schneiderjans and Ashley Chesters, both nine-under, and Irishman Paul Dunne, who teed off in the final group alongside Oosthuizen, but struggled to a round of 78 to finish six-under.
Niebrugge said: “It means the world to me. It ranks up there as the top accomplishment I’ve had so far, the Silver Medal in a major championship, especially at St Andrews. It’s definitely a dream come true.”
Zach Johnson :: Open champion
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