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I am an inveterate golfer. And this past weekend was the holy grail
of golf which is the British Open (also known as the Open
Championship, or simply as, The Open), held this year at Royal
Birkdale in England. This tournament is held each year at one of
several golf courses within the British Isles. The most recognized,
Saint Andrews in Scotland, is known as the “Home of Golf.”
four-day event is the desire of all professional golfers. But only
those who have earned enough points, or have won certain tournaments
are then invited to play at the Open. The very best golfers fly in
from all over the world, dreaming of winning this coveted prize. To
be the last man standing at the end of the tournament establishes the
winner into golf immortality. Your name will be engraved on the
claret jug alongside of past champions, such as, Bobby Jones, Arnold
Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, and now Jordan
Spieth, the 2017 winner.
made a huge splash in the world of professional golf two years ago
when he won two of the four major championships (The Masters, and the
U.S. Open) at age twenty-one. His victory on Sunday at Royal Birkdale
makes him the youngest American golfer to hoist the silver claret
jug. And he’s only twenty-three!
a professional golfer to win even one of the annual four major
tournaments (The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the
PGA) during their career puts them into a class of golfers that is
practically deified. For a player to win multiple major tournaments
means this player has gained a status unlike most any other in sport.
For instance, the aforementioned Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest
golfer of all time (the acronym G.O.A.T. is frequently bestowed on
such an individual) won 18 major championships during his career.
Only Tiger Woods has come anywhere near Jack’s achievement, having
won 14 majors.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
skills necessary to play at the professional level apparently
deteriorate during a player’s 30s, because only a handful of
players have managed to win a major after turning 40. Jack won his
last major at age 46. But then again, Jack is a god in the world of
golf. Tiger is 41.
to Jordan Spieth. I have enjoyed watching this young man play for
several reasons. He is much more like the average guy. He doesn’t
crush his drives, launching his tee shots ridiculous distances down
the fairway. He has a phenomenal “short game,” meaning his use of
his wedges, and particularly his putter, have grown almost to
legendary status. But it’s his humble attitude that I appreciate
the most about him.
took the lead at the Open on the first day, and played great golf for
three days, holding the lead into Sunday. Well, because the
tournament is in England, there’s a bit of a time difference. So,
the first players out on the final day were teeing off at 4:30 Sunday
morning here on the west coast. I crawled out of bed about 4:45, made
myself a cup of coffee and settled in for a few hours of enjoyment.
Since it was Sunday, and I help lead singing in our worship services
at church, I still had to shower and shave in time to make our 8:30
service. Jordan was in the final pairing with Matt Kuchar. When I
left for church, these two were battling it out. They were almost at
the turn (meaning they had finished the first nine holes and were
about to play the second nine) when I walked out the door. Now,
normally I will help lead in singing, and then sit in the pew with my
wife to listen to the pastor deliver his sermon. Then it’s off for
coffee and donuts in the fellowship hall, followed by our adult
Sunday school class. Then I help with the singing again in the 11:00
the way things were going with the tournament, I knew I’d miss the
conclusion (yes, I was recording it!) if I attended things the way I
normally did. So instead, I helped in singing in the first service,
then left for home to watch the remainder of the tournament, which
ended at 10:45. I then drove back to church to lead in singing for
the second service and stayed to hear the sermon. Boy, am I glad I
changed things up for this!
As it turned out, Jordan
was having all sorts of difficulties with his game on the final day.
Jordan hit the most horrific tee shot on the 13th
hole. When they found his ball, it was not even playable, which meant
he’d have to take a penalty stroke. He managed to minimize the
damage, dropping only one stroke to Matt, putting Jordan one shot out
of the lead for the first time after 67 holes. Only five holes
remained, and Jordan’s game was going south!
the announcers rightly stated, Jordan seemed to “throw a switch”.
On the 14th
tee, a par 3 hole, he hit his tee shot, nearly getting a hole-in-one.
He settled for a birdie, bringing him even with Matt. On the 15th
hole, a par 5, Jordan landed his second shot on the green and made
the 48-foot putt for an eagle. On the 16th
hole, a par 4, he birdied this as well, and also a birdie on the
par 4. Going into the 18th
and final hole, Jordan had a two-shot lead over Matt. He parred the
hole and was declared the “Golf Champion of the Year”.
years to come, the golf world will be talking about the incredible
finish Jordan had to win the Open. But, what makes this young man so
enjoyable, is that Jordan is a class act. His comments after
receiving the claret jug were not about himself at all. Instead, he
thanked his caddie, Matt Kuchar, the fans, the groundskeepers, the
more than fifteen hundred volunteers, and the officials. That’s