The Open 2015: Jordan Spieth follows the greats as his hat-trick bid falls short
Jordan Spieth was a day late and a shot short. The Masters and US Open champion was playing against a crowded leaderboard and history. Out of the former, only the three play-off participants could better him.
But history was an even more formidable opponent for the young American. It was in 1960 that Arnold Palmer won the first two majors of the year and decided to cross the Atlantic for a tilt at the Claret Jug. In Palmer's mind, the modern equivalent of Bobby Jones's amateur Grand Slam of 1930 was to win the Masters, the US Open, The Open and the PGA Championship back in the States.
After a weather delay, with the Old Course flooded before the final round, the championship went over into an extra day and Palmer ended up losing by one stroke to Australian Kel Nagle, who died earlier this year.
Like Palmer, Jack Nicklaus lost out to Lee Trevino by one stroke in 1972 when the Bear attempted to win the first three majors of the year, while in 2002 at Muirfield Tiger Woods's similar quest was derailed by a freak storm in the third round.
Woods, the only player to hold all four major title at the same, won three in a row in 2000, but not the Masters. In 1953 Ben Hogan, Spieth's great Texan predecessor, won the only three majors he played in, including The Open at Carnoustie.
Starting the day one behind the overnight leaders, Spieth birdied three of the first six holes but then had a brain fail at the eighth, taking four putts for a double bogey. His long approach putt raced past the hole and off the green.
Never write him off, however. Extra pressure, the chance to make history, only fires him up. He recovered those two shots at the next two holes and then, late in the day he birdied the 16th with the sort of magical wielding of the putter that suggested destiny might still be on his side.
But Spieth could not hole the par-effort on the 17th that Nagle made all those years ago.
For all the talk of his lack of knowledge of the Old Course, and lack of preparation after winning a tournament in America the previous week, it was his drive at the 18th that cost Spieth a chance of making the playoff.
"It's kind of hard not to hit a good one there," he admitted. He spun off the front and his putt up the slope stayed persistently left.
"I've watched Opens at St Andrews and that putt is straight, it won't break back to the right," he said. "It was a good putt with the right speed, which is all I could ask after the second shot.
"I'm pleased with the way I played this week and the way we battled," he said. "It took some special golf to win. It's been a hell of a major."