Golf Expert & Columnist
Major stories, part three: High drama as Spieth wins The Open
Last Updated: 28/12/17 3:42pm
In part three of our major championship review of the year, David Livingstone reflects on another memorable Open and how Jordan Spieth's stunning performance down the stretch was perfect TV drama ...
When reflecting on The Open, it's important to remember that we, as broadcasters, see the tournament in a different way to the majority of golf fans watching it at home. We're seeing it as a TV production, and since Sky Sports first screened The Open live in 2016, we've seen two dramatic blockbusters.
For many of the Sky crew involved at major sporting events, and certainly not just golf, it can be difficult to enjoy the action in its purest form when we're so heavily involved in the coverage and the analysis. There's so much more to think about rather than just watching the drama.
So when Jordan Spieth shoved his drive way right at the 13th on the final day at Royal Birkdale, off he headed to the practice range to take a drop, which took an age, ramped up the drama, and all I could think about was the production.
How can we cover this? How are we going to analyse this? How do we get cameras over to where Spieth is having his discussions with the rules officials? There was Jordan in a part of the golf course that, technically, wasn't part of the golf course, and our main concern was the production.
That last couple of hours had everything. It was pure, sporting theatre and the events of the 13th took it to the realms of the ridiculous at times, although it was great entertainment which had us on the edge of our seats.
For people of a certain age watching at home, it would have prompted memories of the late, great Seve Ballesteros and his famous "car park" shot a few miles up the road at Royal Lytham in 1979.
The 13th might have been pantomime stuff, but for Spieth to get out of there with a bogey and to then produce the golf he did over the next four holes was just astonishing. Let's not forget that Matt Kuchar led The Open on the 14th tee, played the next four holes in two under par, and lost by three shots!
That's the mark of Jordan Spieth, and nothing he does seems to surprise us anymore. When Ian Poulter made five straight birdies on day two to spark the amazing Miracle at Medinah in 2012, I said at the time that Poulter gave the ultimate example of a golfer winning the battle of mind over matter.
But it could be said that Spieth took the mind over matter fight to a new level, and the only other golfers I can think of that were able to produce a comeback of that magnitude were Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Spieth almost aced the 14th, drained a monster putt for eagle at 15 and birdied the next two holes for good measure. It was one of those "you couldn't make it up" moments in sport. Many other players would have been spent after what happened on the 13th, but Spieth played the next four holes in five under par.
I'm sure a number of viewers would have been rooting for Matt Kuchar, one of the genuine nice guys on the golf circuit who has now reached double-figures in top-10 finishes in the majors without managing to land one of the big four titles.
It would have been a great story had Kuchar lifted the Claret Jug, but it would have been a similar situation to Danny Willett's Masters win in 2016. They would not have got the credit they deserved, and the bigger headline would have been Spieth blowing a big lead on the final day of a major championship.
After Spieth's infamous collapse at Augusta which let in Willett, the young Texan would have been devastated to let another major slip from his grasp. He could easily have wound up with a triple-bogey, or worse, on the 13th, but after limiting the damage, his performance down the stretch was as spectacular as it was clinical.
Kuchar did little wrong over the last five holes, but he fell victim to Jordan's ruthless nature. The Open is a big week for us as broadcasters for such a premium sporting event, and to see the tournament decided in such dramatic circumstances over the last couple of hours was a fitting climax to an amazing week.