Share of Majors points to Titanic British Open Tussle at The Home of Golf
Another golfing major has come and gone and a seemingly fearless young man stands with the golfing world at his feet; sound familiar? It was Rory McIlroy in 2014 being lauded as the new dominant force in the sport, with back-to-back majors in his pocket and an inevitable era of dominance at his incredibly gifted fingertips. Fast-forward ten months and there stands Jordan Spieth, the record breaking Texan striving to play his own way into the annals of golfing history. He himself now holds back-to-back major victories and has his eyes firmly set on an unprecedented calendar Grand Slam. It would appear as if we have the makings of a classic sporting rivalry on our hands, even if the pragmatic Spieth has distanced himself from such claims.
“I don’t think there is much of a rivalry. I’ve said that from the beginning, Rory has four majors and dozens of wins and I’m just starting out.”
If holding two of golf’s most prized titles (and sport’s most famous of jackets) is the return for a player “just starting out” then you have to fear for the rest of the field once he reaches the peak of his powers, not that Rory will admit to be feeling the strain. Talking prior to the tournament, McIlroy drew comparisons between himself and NBA megastar LeBron James commenting, “if you look at the numbers, you can really see he is the best player in the world. And I guess for me I feel the same way, when I look at the World Rankings and I see my name up at the top. If you look back at the last four or five years, I guess I’ve won more majors than anyone else in that time period. So do I feel like the best player in the world? Yes.” Can you really argue with McIlroy’s self-confidence? After all, the numbers don’t lie.
And so to Sunday, and the prospect of the world’s top two players going head-to-head in an 18-hole Monday playoff, at one stage, looked a real possibility. A monstrous birdie putt at 13 took Rory to 6 under par for his final round with realistic birdie chances to come at holes 15 and 18. A combination of a clubhouse lead of 4 under par, the World Number One’s mere presence on the leaderboard and the much maligned Chambers Bay greens would have no doubt instilled fear into even the coolest of heads and the smoothest of putting strokes. But, alas, the course inevitably bit back. Two birdie chances evaporated and two bogeys worked their way onto the scorecard leaving Messrs Spieth and Johnson to decide the destiny of the tournament on the 72nd green. 3 putting strokes later from DJ and the tournament belonged to Spieth – a harsh reminder of the cruelty of professional sport. In claiming victory, Spieth became only the sixth player in history, and the first since Tiger Woods (remember him) in 2002, to claim the Masters and US Open crowns in the same year.A showdown between the World’s two best players will have to wait, for now.
The world’s finest are reunited on the 16th July at St Andrews and unsurprisingly McIlroy and Spieth lead the betting by a considerable distance. With all four majors being shared between golf’s two latest superstars, it would be a real surprise if both names were not toward the top of the leaderboard and in contention come Championship Sunday at the home of golf. Fans of the game will be hoping that this marks the continuation of a truly intriguing and captivating sporting rivalry, and as Jordan Spieth says, “it’s awesome that the game is in young hands”.
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Written by Michael Murphy