Zach Johnson was the first to post 15-under-par 264 and was the last man standing after defeating South African Louis Oosthuizen and Aussie Marc Leishman in a four-hole aggregate playoff. Johnson won The Open Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews by firing one-under in the playoff to defeat Oosthuizen by a shot and Leishman by three. Jordan Spieth's dream of a grand slam died as he finished joint fourth with Aussie Jason Day as they both missed the playoff by one shot.
Johnson opened with 66 and closed with 66, the low co-low round of the day Monday to secure his second major championship. His eight birdies and two bogeys set the pace as he set the pace but also told the leaders that there were low scores to be had. Johnson was the first and only player to hit 16-under after seven birdies in his first 12 holes. He three-putted No. 13 to give the field hope and then bogeyed No. 17 to fall out of the lead. But, as he did three previous times in the week, he birdied the final hole. This time it was from 20 feet for a chance at his first major championship. He holed it and then had to wait almost 90 minutes to learn his fate. He would have waited two weeks if he knew it would lead to his second major championship. Leishman and Day left their putts short but Leishman was already on 15-under. Spieth's must-make effort from the Valley of Sin just missed and Oosthuizen must-make "made" to set the playoff at three instead of five.
So much for a repeat of a firm-and-fast Chambers Bay as the wind and rain played havoc with everything. The course was slow except when it was fast. The rains made the pins move to higher points on the greens which were affected by heavy winds and play was destroyed on Saturday. Tiger Woods lamented that the course was soft and green earlier in the week and he wasn't wrong. I could count on both hands how many times the leaders were in the bunkers in the final two rounds. Mother Nature is undefeated and so is the Old Course but that "Old Lady" is losing her defense when the greens are green and they can't play in sustained winds.
Why This Performance Doesn’t Surprise:
Johnson won his other major at Augusta in 2007 where he wedged the place to death so we've seen this performance before. He's obviously comfortable being Zach Johnson and plays within his boundaries and that's what makes him successful.
He has no problem playing the week before in his "hometown" event at the JDC. Hell, his form there, which is INCREDIBLE, has done nothing but buoy him across the pond.
He's now made NINE cuts in a row at the Open. Nine. People argued that Spieth shouldn't have played the JDC? DO SOME HOMEWORK PEOPLE.
Johnson has had plenty of experience in big time events so holding his nerve was hardly surprising. He's now won in eight of the last nine years and has 12 wins in his career. Don't forget he's now 4-1 in playoffs. #Steel
Johnson entered the week with solo sixth or better in three of his last four events including T3 at the JDC.
Why This Performance Surprises:
It wasn't in Georgia, Texas, Hawaii or Illinois like the other 11 titles! Seriously, Johnson hadn't won since January of 2014 at the HTOC and gamers get nervy when guys in their late 30s slow down between wins. The winning formula at St. Andrews over the last 25 years has been bomb and gouge, similar to Augusta. Johnson doesn't register on the bomb-o-meter but he can gouge with the best of them from the middle of the fairway. This wouldn't have been the course I thought he would have claimed his second major because of the big hitters. Fool me once...
How Johnson Won This Week:
His opening 66 gave him breathing room as the tournament ground to a halt on Friday and part of Saturday. His 66 on Sunday, as mentioned above, was co-low round of the day and fourth-lowest closing round by a winner in history at St. Andrews.
His putter and wedge game are where he makes his money, lots of it, and this week wasn't any different.
He plays from the middle of the fairway and was T3 this week in accuracy.
He made 22 birdies, good for T3.
He averaged 26 putts per round, good for T6.
If you haven't burned Johnson yet you'll get another chance at Conway Farms, site of the BMW Championship in the Playoffs, where he's the defending champion. His wedge game and rejuvenated putter are the keys to his success and his pedigree (12 wins, two majors) shouldn't scare you off either.
With This Win:
Johnson becomes the only player in history to have two majors with one at Augusta and one at St. Andrews.
He wins 600 FedExCup points and will pocket over $1.8 million in cold, hard cash.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After 28 wins in 45 events last season, the USA is back in the winner's circle again this week with Scott Piercy at the Barbasol Championship as well.
Brooks Koepka, Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson twice, Ryan Moore, Robert Streb, Ben Martin, Brandt Snedeker, James Hahn (born in Korea; US citizen), Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Every, Walker again, J.B. Holmes, Spieth again, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk, Spieth FOUR TIMES, Johnson and Piercy are the USA champs.
Alex Cejka (Germany), Paddy Harrington (Ireland), Sangmoon Bae (Korea), Nick Taylor (Canada), Jason Day (Australia), Justin Rose (England), McIlroy times two (Northern Ireland), Steven Bowditch (Australia), David Lingmerth (Sweden), Fabian Gomez (Argentina) and Danny Lee (South Korea) are the 11 international winners in 37 events. It’s quite the global game as the 11 winners represent Germany, Ireland, Korea (twice), Canada, Australia (twice), England, Northern Ireland (same guy twice), Sweden and Argentina.
Haas, Bae, Martin, Moore, Walker and Spieth have closed their 54-hole leads. Walker, Spieth and Kirk are the only persons on BOTH sides of this list; Walker couldn’t close out at HTOC but came back and won the following week at Sony. Spieth, who was 0-4 with the 54-hole lead in his career on TOUR, couldn’t hold out at SHO before winning the Masters. We know what's happened since. Kirk couldn’t close his 54-hole lead at THE PLAYERS but had no trouble coming off the pace at Colonial. Rose adds his name to this list as his three-shot lead evaporated. Gomez made it only 11 players in 30 events (no 54-hole leader at WGC-Match Play) that have finished the job. That makes only 13 players in 36 events to close it down on Sunday. Piercy makes it 14 players to hold up from 37 events.
After 13 first-time winners in 2013 there were only 10 last year. After 37 events in 2015 Gomez, Lingmerth, Martin, Streb, Taylor, Koepka, Hahn, Cejka and Lee have broken through.
This is the fourth time in the last five visits to the Old Course that 14-under was needed to win. Only John Daly (-6) in 1995 didn't need lower than 14.
Since 2000, nine Americans have been named Champion Golfer.
This was the fifth playoff since the turn of the century and first since 2009.
Of the last five winners, three have been in their 40s; Johnson turned 39 in February. #ExperienceintheWind
Jordan Niebrugge, a 21-year old amateur from Oklahoma State finished T6. The last amateur to win was Bob Jones in 1930. Amateur Paul Dunne co-led with Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen after 54 holes. In all, five amateurs of the eight entered made the weekend.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
I annually keep track of the age of the winners on TOUR because I’m an ageist. GET OFF MY VIAGRA.
Bae got the youngsters (under 30) on the board first in 2014-15 followed by Martin and Streb, both 27. Nick Taylor, 26, popped in to close out 2014 at SFC. Reed joined the party at a whopping 24 at HTOC followed by Koepka, 25 in Phoenix and Jason Day, 27, at Torrey Pines. Spieth, who turns 22 on 27 July, has won at Valspar, Augusta, Chambers Bay and now TPC Deere Valley. McIlroy, 26, Fowler, 26, and McIlroy won again at Quail Hollow. Lingmerth, the winner at Memorial, turns 28 in July. The youngsters have 15 winners in 37 events this year as Spieth is the landlord.
Dustin Johnson (30), James Hahn (33), Brandt Snedeker (34),Bill Haas (32), Jimmy Walker TWICE (36), Charley Hoffman (37), Bubba Watson (36) TWICE, Ryan Moore (31), Matt Every (31), J.B. Holmes (32),Justin Rose (34), Chris Kirk (30), Steven Bowditch (31), Fabian Gomez (36), Piercy, 36 and Johnson, 39, are the prime time guys with silverware (30-39 years).
The old guys (40-and-over) have Jim Furyk, Paddy Harrington and Alex Cejka as representatives in their smallish club in 2015. Stewart Cink, 42, Greg Owen, 43, and Phil Mickelson, 45, all tied for 20th. One of those is not like the other but Owen has been playing extremely well.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10 this week.
Louis Oosthuizen: His quest to defend on the Old Course came up one shot short but he showed his class again on the world's stage. Don't forget he was T3 last year at Hoylake so that's three podiums in his last six tries. When healthy, there might not be a better striker of the golf ball on TOUR and for the second major in a row he was a massive factor on the final day (T2, U.S. Open). His piercing ball flight and steely nerve have resulted in seven top 10s in his last 16 majors he's played. He's now been the runner up at the Masters (P2, 2012), U.S. Open (T2, 2014) and The Open Championship (P2). That's strong. After his 69 today, he's 58-under in his last 14 rounds at the Old Course.
Marc Leishman: His P2 pairs up nicely with his T5 last year at Hoylake and it's no secret the Aussie can play in these conditions. He made one bogey on the "weekend" on No. 16 that cost him a chance to win in regulation. His 64-66 finish is the lowest closing 36-holes in history of this event. Entering the week he MC in three of his last five but did register at a much different layout, Memorial, where he posted T5. The story about his wife almost dying makes what he did this week even cooler. Google it. He's found a new outlook on golf and life but as shown above, it doesn't rear its head EVERY week.
Jordan Spieth: He had six three-putts, one FOUR-putt and missed the playoff and a chance and the third leg of the grand slam by one shot. Yep, that close. From a fantasy angle, he's "must-use" in every format where starts don't count; his starts should be gone in every other format. The good news is if you've "saved" starts on him, well, you still have starts on him!
Jason Day: I had no idea how Day would react after watching him battle Vertigo at Chambers Bay. I decided that damaged goods wasn't going to be my angle especially in an event where he never produced anything better that T30 in four tries. I've learned that Day should be in the lineup at any major if he's standing up as T4 is his ninth top 10 in 20 major starts. He's supremely talented and now that he's found what is ailing him and has cured it, he should be on autopilot for gamers moving forward.
Danny Willett: His form was quiet over the last three months minus T6 at Royal County Down. He followed that with MC at Chambers Bay and MC at the French Open so I understood why he was omitted. After watching him open 66-69 I didn't! His 72-70 kept him in the top 10 and four consecutive birdies on the back coming home solidified his position. He garnered our attention at the WGC-Match Play when he finished third. He's 27 and just getting better.
Justin Rose: He played the front side nine-under for the week as he cashed 10 birdies to one bogey. His T6 is his second-best at the Open after finishing T4 as low amateur in 1998. Last year he won the Scottish Open before; this year he finishes T6 at the Old Course. He's figuring it out and is turning his weakest major around. That's encouraging as it gives gamers another week to invest.
Sergio Garcia: Another year at The Open Championship, another "almost" for Garcia. His T6 adds to his T14 in 2010 and T5 in 2005 in his last three trips to the home of golf. He was five-under through 10 and just one back but his normally steady ball-striking left him as he found bunkers (which lead to bogeys) in consecutive holes. One more bogey on the Road Hole saw him limp home in 38. That's 67 majors in a row without a winner. He's played 19 Opens and seen the weekend 15 times. This was his ninth top 10 and third in five years so he's as safe as they come in fantasy land.
Jordan Niebrugge (A): Like Spieth, he's just 21 but he'll be returning to Oklahoma State next year for his senior season with the Cowboys. His T6 finish easily saw him take home the Silver Medal for the low amateur. He made 20 birdies on the Old Course against only seven bogeys and a double. Not bad for a local qualifier! Gamers, take a folder and label it up-and-coming players. Put Niebrugge in it. And Schniederjans. And Chesters. Thank me later.
Brooks Koepka: His T10 was his fourth T18 or better in his last six majors. He was T4 at Pinehurst, T15 at Valhalla and T18 at Chambers Bay so this is more proof positive that his game travels. He made zero bogeys the final two rounds (69-68) and zoomed up 16 spots Monday for his second top 10 in the majors. Koepka finished T9 at the Alfred Dunhill Links last year and proved that wasn't a fluke and his ball-flight works.
Adam Scott: He was tied for the lead with five holes to play on 15-under. He carded bogey-bogey-par-bogey-double to finish T10 on 10-under. Flashbacks of 2012 come storming back to gamers as he led Ernie Els by four shots with four to play. He missed a putt from less than two feet during that streak as well. I think it's obvious that Scott and Stevie Williams make a hell of a team as that is T4 at the U.S. Open and another real chance again this week. Gamers who had him in OAD you may complain loudly. Again. I'd remind that he was six-under through 10 before those final five holes and made 19 birdies on the week but that's cruel AND unusual. In his last 10 Open Championships he's finished inside the top 27 nine times. This was his fourth top 10 in a row but first outside T5.
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column:
Jordan Spieth: T4, see above.
Henrik Stenson: Hit all 18 greens on Monday and only shot 69. Need more proof that it turned out to be a putting contest?
Rickie Fowler: He entered the week on fire in the majors but only one round in the 60s this week saw him finish T31. His ice-cold putter didn't help matters much as he also punished fairways and GIR. His 66 on Saturday followed with 73 on Sunday.
Adam Scott: T10, see above.
Louis Oosthuizen: P2, see above.
Branden Grace: His 67 on Monday was the second-lowest of the day and moved him up 44 spots to T20. After MC at Augusta he rattled off seven of eight weekends including six in the top 20. He's ranked inside the top 30 in the world for a reason.
Sergio Garcia: T6, see above.
Dustin Johnson: He was the 36-hole leader in the most difficult conditions. He shot 75-75 on the weekend in the most benign conditions. He has more scar tissue than the Kardashians in major championships.
Brandt Snedeker: His major championship record was excellent as his recent form just as good but his double at the Road Hole on Friday killed his chances as he MC. He's now MC in four of seven across the pond.
Paul Casey: Another player who I thought would have excelled in poor weather didn't have the chance. Putting is not where Casey makes his money and once this became a putting contest, it's hardly a surprise that he and the other ball-strikers faded.
Zach Johnson: WIN, see above.
Martin Kaymer: He broke up a nasty run of form (MC x 3) with a solo fourth in France his last time out and kicked down a back-door T12 with his closing round 68. He was T7 in 2010 and has had plenty of successes on the Old Course so he did his job in the end. Royal Lytham and St. Anne's is the only other Open course where he's had anything inside of the top 30.
Hideki Matsuyama: He always finds a way to get his neck in the race. This week was eight birdies and two bogeys for 66 on Friday. His 71-71 final two rounds kept him inside the top 20 (T18) but never seriously contended. He destroyed the front nine to the tune of 14-under but he played the more difficult back nine six over. He had it to 11-under in the final round before coming home in 38. Make it TEN in a row inside the top 25.
Justin Rose: T6, see above.
Francesco Molinari: Saved his best for last as his 67 on Monday moved him up 30-something spots into the top 40. It was his only round in the 60s for the week.
Charl Schwartzel: He began the final round just four back T15. He shot the worst round of the day, 79, to finish T-whocares. He killed Group C Yahoo players everywhere.
Matt Kuchar: His T58 makes it five cuts made in his last six but his normally steady putter didn't clear customs.
Shane Lowry: He was two-under on Thursday before taking eight on The Road Hole. He made one birdie and one bogey on Friday as 35 putts saw him MC by a shot.
Victor Dubuisson: Bogeys in two of his final three holes saw the Frenchman miss by one as well. His birdie on No. 18 was one short in the end and he never took less than 30 putts in his two rounds. Sense a pattern?
Tommy Fleetwood: Started with five birdies and 69. Closed with no birdies and 76 to miss by one. I'll let you guess which club held him back.
Barbasol Championship Recap
American Scott Piercy continued his recent solid form and found the winner's circle for the first time since 2012 as he cruised to victory at the Barbasol Championship in Opelika, Alabama. Piercy broke in the inaugural event by roasting the Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Grand National Lake Course to the tune of 19-under-par 265. He beat hometown favorites Will Wilcox (Birmingham), who was alone in second, by three shots and Alabama amateur Robby Shelton, who was in a group at T3, by two more.
Piercy had no problem continuing his excellent run of form as this victory backed up T29 at Greenbrier and T14 last week at the JDC. It didn't hurt that he toasted the Lake Course at the RTJ Trail Grand National 65-65 to break away on Sunday and win. He racked up two eagles and 22 birdies for the week. He made five bogeys and one double that kept the rest of the field close. He was T1 for the week in GIR and strokes gained: tee-to-green.
He spotted the field three strokes in his first four holes on Thursday as he opened bogey-par-par-double but rallied to play the rest of the week 23-under. No wonder why he had a four-shot lead on the back nine on Sunday! Piercy and Ricky Barnes were the 54-hole leaders so Piercy becomes just the 14th player this season to protect the overnight lead on Saturday. Piercy, when healthy, has never been afraid to get low and has a penchant for tearing up resort courses and TPCs. This week wasn't any different!
What I learned from the players who finished in the top 10:
Will Wilcox: His excellent summer continues as the Birmingham native had plenty of friends and family on the ropes and he didn't disappoint. His solo second was his best finish on TOUR and wraps up his card for 2015-16 to the surprise of nobody who reads this column. In 13 starts this year on limited status Wilcox has made nine cuts. Of those seven have gone for top 25s and three, including back-to-back weeks, have hit the top 10. Since April he's posted ONE round above 71 in seven events. Future is extremely bright and now he's playing with house money the rest of the season. Sadly his solo second was "only" worth $378k for my OAD purse. Sigh.
Robby Shelton (A): That's not his group in Yahoo but rather his status, amateur. The University of Alabama junior-to-be put four rounds under par to claim T3. Not bad for his second start on TOUR. He's just the 18th amateur to finish in the top three since 1940. Not bad for a sponsor's exemption! Gamers should have a file for up-and-coming players. He should be included as he's won at junior level and he's won multiple times at the collegiate level. Winners win folks.
Whee Kim: We (see what I did there?) saw him last at Zurich as his 68-64 for his first top 10. Another birdie fest sees him post his best finish in 19 events on TOUR as he played the par fours and fives 17-under for the week. If you were surprised he was in the top 10 this week you're hardly alone as he entered the week MC-T65-T82-T45-MC-T67-MC after his T8 at Zurich. He's having a very steady rookie season but the consistency, as is the case with most rookies, is the issue.
Ricky Barnes: This column is never personal. Gamers need to deal with facts, not feels. Barnes's T3 is his best finish in three years. He now has three top 10s in his last 76 starts. This was his second top 25 in 23 starts this season. He's made over $1 million once in seven years and that was seven years ago.
Andrew Loupe: Hardly surprising that he was playing well in the heat and humidity as the Baton Rouge native hits the top 10 (T6) for the first time in 26 events. Playing on limited status after missing 12 of 22 cuts last year, Loupe made just his fifth cut from 12 starts this week. This was his first top 10 and first result inside T40. He entered the week on MC-MC-MC.
Boo Weekley: Make it six top 10s in 20 starts this year for the ball-striking machine and two of his last three with T6 this week (T8, FESJC). Weekley played the weekend 72-78, eight over, at one of the easiest stops on TOUR last week but rebounded this week with four rounds in the 60s. Ok.
Austin Cook: If he Monday qualifies, he qualifies for a spot on my roster. He's played four times this season and T11-MC-T22-T6 are his results. He Monday qualified in 2013 at the FESJC and was T13. That's all he's played ever. He's in the field next week in Canada via his top 10 this week. Wonder what he'll do on Monday with all of his free time? Poutine? Moosehead?
Mark Hensby: His last 10 starts worldwide over the last four years have resulted in nine MCs and one WD. As you were.
Andres Romero: His summer of fun began with T14 at the U.S. Open and he's backed that with MC-T6-T10. He'll be in the lineup in some fashion at the RBC Canadian as he's as hot as the weather in Alabama.
Aaron Baddeley: In 21 events this season T17 was his best finish so his 64-67 weekend was a surprise. This was his first top 10 since last June. After solo fourth last year at the Travelers he MC in his final five events of the season. Woof.
Blayne Barber: He was the only player in my "Long Shot of the Week" category as I argued the Auburn grad needed some home cookin' to break his recent slump. He obliged with his first weekend in his last six events since T8 at Zurich.
Johnson Wagner: His third top 10 of the season sees him crack the $1 million mark for the first time since 2012 when he won at Waialae to open the year. Those gamers who followed his T5 at the JDC last week were rewarded again this week. He has one round of his last 14 above 70 but this isn't a murders row of difficult courses either.
Vaughn Taylor: Couldn't back his 63 on Saturday with another low one but his T10 makes seven weekends from eight tries on TOUR this season. He's posted T18-T44-T10 in his last three and will need a couple more big finishes to secure his card for next year.
Emiliano Grillo: Entered the week with nothing worse than T41 on the European Tour in 2015. His T10 is his second top 10 in just five career starts on TOUR (P2, PRO) and is honing his skills in Europe and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica. He has only used two sponsor's exemptions this season so WRITE HIS NAME DOWN if you need to make a move in the final two months of the season. Plus he's getting married September 5 and will need some dosh for the honeymoon!
A quick recap of what happened to the Chalk from my preview column:
Chris Stroud: I spelled "Scott Piercy" incorrectly. Bolton asked me why I left him out of my preview after I posted it on Tuesday. I whiffed. Plain and simple. Apologies to all. Fitting that he won as well! Stroud posted three rounds of 70 before 66 on Sunday saw him finish T32.
Will Wilcox: Solo second, see above.
Patton Kizzire: Auburn grad, Web.com money leader and no rounds under par. Disaster.
Mark Hubbard: Ended a streak of five weekends in a row with MC. Of course.
Kyle Stanley: Entered the week on the back of T20-T18 and was T12 entering the final round. His even-par 71 saw the field lap him; T23.
Emiliano Grillo: T10, see above.
Martin Piller: Shot 29-under last week. Shot 10-under this week. T19. Nice fortnight but did not join Paul Stankowski as winning on the Web.com and PGA TOUR in back-to-back weeks. YOU'RE RECORD IS STILL SAFE, STANKO!
Anybody Named Thompson: Michael, T39. Nicholas, MC. Kyle, T10 (Web.com). Curtis, MC (Web.com). Lexi (LPGA), T18. They're not all related, I think...
Johnson Wagner: T10, see above.
Maverick McNealy: This was awesome: 66-75-82-67. T78 but he didn't quit. He'll be a junior at Stanford next year. He's the top-rated amateur according to Golfweek.com.
Austin Cook: T6, see above.
I’ll publish my weekly preview, Range Rover, around lunchtime, children permitting. I’ll focus on history, current form, course characteristics, winning qualities and those who I think will and will not.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday late afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game, DFS plus the European Tour! Oh, and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it every Tuesday until the Presidents Cup.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the RBC Canadian Open plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.