Zach Johnson wins 144th Open Championship after play-off
The 144th Open is in the books following a thrilling three-way play-off at which saw Zach Johnson crowned champion at St Andrews.
Johnson added to the Masters title he won eight years ago after coming through a tense play-off against Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.
The 39-year-old American had set the clubhouse target on 15 under after a closing 66 that was matched 40 minutes later by a resilient Leishman, whose total of 130 for the third and fourth rounds gave him a flawless 64 on Sunday – equalling the lowest 36-hole total in major history.
There was an increasing feeling that the title would be going to Oosthuizen, who won the 2010 Open at St Andrews. He still had two holes left to play and after a wonderful par save on the 17th, birdied the 18th from five feet.
With all three men working each other to a tie, it was left down to an exciting play-off to determine who would be lifting the Claret Jug. The three-way aggregate play-off was played on the first, second, 17th and 18th holes – the first time the Open had headed to extra holes since Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009.
Johnson and Oosthuizen made their opening birdies before Leishman three-putted from long range and Johnson edged in front with another birdie on the second.
The 17th proved stern opposition for all three players as they each recorded bogeys, and after Johnson missed his birdie attempt on the 18th, Oosthuizen's shot from 12 feet also missed to give Johnson his second major title following on from his 2007 Masters Triumph.
"I feel blessed to be the champion, I feel honoured to part of the history of this game and to don my name on that trophy, especially with the names before me,” said an emotional Johnson after the game.
"Humbling and surreal are two words that come to mind.
"I can't play any better than what I did. I had a lull on Friday and Saturday, but nothing significant, but stayed in it and waited for the opportunities and made a few."
Elsewhere, Jordan Spieth made it a ‘so near yet so far’ moment as his bid for an unprecedented golfing Grand Slam ended in knife-edge fashion.
The 21-year-old American was seeking to become the first man to land the year’s first three majors since compatriot Ben Hogan in 1953.
All he needed was a birdie on the 18th hole to join the play-off party.
However, his approach shot spun back off the green and into the Valley of Sin before he narrowly missed his birdie attempt.
It was frustrating for Spieth, who had fought back after four-putting the eighth for a double bogey to sink birdies on the next two holes and holing from 50 feet on the 16th to tie the lead.
In the end, though, the World No.2 was unable to make it count and bogeyed the 17th after a rare mis-hit on his approach. He had to settle for a closing 69 to finish 14 under par and tie for fourth alongside his playing partner Jason Day.
English duo Danny Willett and Justin Rose were three shots further back in a share of sixth place with Sergio Garcia and 21-year-old American Jordan Niebrugge, who finished as the leading amateur.
Irish amateur Paul Dunne, who held a share of the lead at the end of the third round, struggled to a 78 on Monday and finished in a tie for 30th position.
What’s In The Bag?
Here is the golf equipment used by Zach Johnson in his impressive victory at the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews:
Fairway Woods: Titleist 913F Fairway Wood
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM4
Putter: SeeMore FGP
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Clothing: Oakley Golf
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