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It’s time for another rich iteration of the Monday Takeaway.

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It’s time for another rich iteration of the Monday Takeaway.

This weeks starts with a little anecdote. With a lull in The Open precedings on Saturday evening, I asked one of the girls in the bar to switch to catch the end of a Gaelic Football knockout game (pretty much our playoffs) between Mayo and Cork. The club team were playing another club in a competition, so in effect I had the bar to myself, only staff were present. Mayo are the perennial bridesmaids in the competition, reaching final after final, all to no avail. One of the girls said “I’d love to see Mayo win it out this year, they deserve it”. I should have been pleasant and merely nodded, but I had to retort “They only deserve it if they win it”…. Which was greeted with scorn from the normally amicable bar staff. Oh dear. Back to the relevance with golf. Jordan Spieth deserves each and every bit of praise he receives, because he goes out and gets it done. There are many players on the tour, but have any of them all of his attributes? His iron play. His short game. His putting. Sure, they are tangible. What about his killer instincts? His ability to grind out sub par rounds even with his C game? His mental fortitude that when things go haywire, as we saw on thirteen yesterday, that he has the presence of mind to know the rules and calmly apply them to his advantage. That he is one of the fiercest, if not THE MOST, out there. This is categorized by an interaction with Kuchar on Saturday. Coming up to the eighteenth green, Kuchar flippantly remarks “How cool is it to be in the final group coming up eighteen?” You wouldn’t have heard that from Spieth. He made Kuchar uncomfortable, not through bully boy tactics, but through his body language (Spieth was at pains afterwards to point out how good Matt Kuchar played all week, to his credit) . The iconic eagle putt, storming off and hollering at Greller, his caddy, “Go get that”, must have sent daggers into Matts heart. After watching Spieth blow a three shot lead, Kuchar lead The Open, but conversely couldn’t truly go claim it for himself. The final few holes bore witness to scenes that will be replayed again and again. The greatest five in Open history came after twenty mintutes of deliberation. With a wild drive finding some awful rough via a spectators head, Spieth took a penaty drop, but not just any. He could go back as far as necessary, so picked the most obvious place to drop- the driving range. Bear with me here, things get a bit technical. As the tour trucks that follow the players line the driving range, they are considered temporary immovable obstructions, he was allowed drop off the line from the flag, the line of sight rule.

Nearly there. So, with great advertising space for Team Titleist, Spieth needs a yardage to the green. Michael Greller is sent to the top of the hump that Jordan had previously buried his Pro-V One into. So he multitasks by offering a yardage AND a line. Greller stays on the line until Spieth beckons at him “You cannot stand there” and hits the ball near enough to the green to avoid a bunker and get up and down for bogey of the century. Are you still there? Phew! Bet you didn’t think the Monday Takeaway would turn into a courtroom drama, did you?

He then rattled off one of the great finishes in Open or Major history, going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to move away from Kuchar and wrangle his way over the finish line. The very definition of a champion golfer is the one who goes around in the lowest amount of shots, by hook or by crook. It’s hard to find many better Champion Golfers, and Birkdale has produced another to add to its illustrious list. Though I never gave into the narrative of Jordan having what happened at The Masters in the back of his mind, he admitted as much himself. But at 23, he put in one of the most mature and assured performances an Open has seen. That he becomes the second youngest player to win three Majors is no surprise really. With his game not overly reliant on swing speed and theatrics in the vein of a Dustin, he can tag on more Majors to his current tally of three.

Notable mentions before I summise the plight of the Irish must go to Kuchar, who I never felt would win, kept Spieth honest and produced another good Majors week, gracefully picking his way around and avoiding the Birkdale pot bunkers. Austin Connelly is another form the Cameron McCormick stable, and seems to have gotten a rub of the talent that Jordan has, by aquitting himself very well. Alfie Plant finished as the Silver Medalist, being the only amateur to navigate his way below the cut line and enjoyed a good four days. Nturally, Branden Grace should be applauded for his 62, the lowest in Men’s Major history, and one of the most effortless rounds I’ve seen put together. He took advantage of a soft course and avoided the pitfalls, being rewarded with a historical performance. Does it take from Birkdale that this occurred? I wouldn’t say so, as you can’t artificially set up a course in the mould of a US Open course, owing to the unpredictability of the elements, as shown over the course of the week. So kudos Branden, but now you have to turn this into a victory at some stage. He came close at Chambers Bay and has the talent to snatch one, but he needs to go grab it.

As for our own. My pre tournament pick and former winner Padraig Harrington just missed the cut at six over, needing to chip in on the last to make it. He struggled at times, which is a pity as he was bringing form in. This is probably his best chance at winning another Major, so he could be waiting. I hope not though. Shane Lowry also had a poor return this week, missing the cut too. He sadly racked up large numbers and never gave himself a chance, which is sad after I figured he had turned a corner, given his showing at Wentworth. This was a big week for Rory McIlroy, who had as much a rollercoaster journey as Spieth. Thursday evening appeared to be his worst nightmares come true, being five over after six. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING was going right. His tournament was teetering on the brink of another failure, until JP Fitzgerald, showing that it’s always the caddies fault, in a positive light. He brandished his playing after this turmoil, saying “What the f@ck are you doing? You’re Rory McIlroy”, giving him the swift kick up the ass that he needed. He produced some blistering golf after this, rattling off five birdies on the back nine, and taking advantage of the better conditions to shoot a 68 to get into the weekend. He needed a better weekend to really compete, but some bad luck and running out of steam derailed his challenge on Saturday, case in point was when he had to stand in a bunker while the ball was three feet above him. He is still not firing on all cylinders, but I genuinely feel he has turned a corner, and sets himself up well for Quail Hollow, for the USPGA where he will try to deride Spieths attempt at history and a career Grand Slam. To show that I’m not an apologist, many keep saying “What if?” “What if Rory didn’t have the front nine on Thursday? He would have won or been in contention”

But he did, and Jordan didn’t, and so one is the winner and one finishes fourth. Golf is a cruel sport, more so than most, but is one based on meritocracy, so the best golfer wins. And remember what my definition of Champion Golfer was?

Final credit goes to TJ Goggin for winning the Major competiton, as he was closest with Spieth, being one off his low score. It’s out of the entrants and Spieth had the lowest round out of all picked. For those chancing your arm tagging Grace on a Saturday evening/ Sunday afternoon, nice try, but no dice. You had to call it before it happens, and you didn’t. TJ got it done and so did Jordan! We wait three weeks to the USPGA, and the final major of the year. Can I go three out of four?