2017-07-23 14:58:03
Jordan Spieth Wins the British Open, His Third Major Title

14:58, July 23 288 0

SOUTHPORT, England — Jordan Spieth won his third major championship on Sunday, outpacing the field at the 146th British Open as well as one notable absentee, the 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.

Spieth closed with a one-under-par 69 for a 72-hole total of 268, three strokes better than the runner-up, his fellow American Matt Kuchar. China’s Li Haotong, 21, closed with a 63 to vault into third place.

The victory moved Spieth, 23, to within a P.G.A. Championship title of a career Grand Slam. Woods, who is sidelined from tournament golf while he addresses a dependency on prescription medication, was five months past his 24th birthday when he won his third of the four majors, the 2000 United States Open.

Spieth, who won the Masters and the U.S.Open in 2015, will turn 24 on Thursday. By the slenderest of margins, he became the second player to win three legs of golf’s Grand Slam before turning 24, joining the 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.

Spieth, who led by three strokes going into Sunday’s round at Royal Birkdale, has won nine of the past 10 tournaments in which he has gone into the final round with the lead. The one exception was the 2016 Masters, where he frittered away a five-stroke advantage on the final nine holes and lost by three. On Sunday, Spieth struggled on the front nine, where he three-putted three times on his way to a three-over 37. He was tied with Kuchar with nine holes to play, but salvaged a remarkable bogey on the 13th after a wild slice off the tee went 100 yards right, while he nearly aced the par-3 14th and sank a 40-foot eagle putt on 15.

The title was Spieth’s 11th title in a P.G.A. Tour-sanctioned event since he turned pro in 2012. Only Woods, with 15, had more before his 24th birthday.

Golf is a long-distance race, a fact emphasized by the presence of 60-year-old Mark O’Meara, the 1998 British Open champion, in this year’s field. But with his victory here, Spieth has turned the men’s game into a sprint against Rory McIlroy to see which of them will become the sixth player — and the first since Woods at the 2000 British Open — to win all four of the majors.

McIlroy, 28, still needs a victory at the Masters. Spieth will have his first opportunity to complete the Slam next month, in the P.G.A. Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.

Spieth finished second at the P.G.A. Championship two years ago at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits. Ernie Els, a four-time major winner from South Africa, said he would not be surprised if Spieth approaches Woods’s total of major titles. Speaking after his round of 74, while Spieth was still on the course, Els said, “He can go up to the 14 mark.”

Els explained that Spieth’s track record — seven top-four finishes in 19 major starts — could become intimidating to any other contender if he sees Spieth’s name on the leaderboard.

“Guys kind of start knowing that you know how to win,” Els said. “And almost like Tiger, where people maybe feel like they can’t do it against Jordan.”