Four different stories in four very different Major Golf events.
In these days of limited characters and maximum brevity let me start with a summary that can be digested easily by the insta-info generation.
The Masters – ‘One-man show’
The U.S. Open – ‘Crazy golf’
The Open – ‘Survival’
The PGA Championship – ‘Finally’
For those of you still with me, let’s go into a bit of detail. Now that the long wait until April is underway again the achievements in the 4 biggest events in annual golf can be scrutinized properly. Spieth should be and is, the finale to any season review. So starting at the end, Jason Day’s 2-shot win at Whistling Straits was my emotional high-point. For a couple of hours on the Sunday I was hoping Mr. Spieth could pull it off, but by the time the final pairing reached the 16th tee I was fully onboard the Day train. So often as the final putt rolls in the cup, the winner seems to have accepted his Major success sometime before and the outpouring of relief is less than Hollywood-like. But Jason Day won a lot of hearts when the tears rolled down his face as he looked at the final shot before he entered the list entitled “Major winners”. He has come so close, so many times. He needed to cross the finishing line before it became the Mission: Impossible on his CV.
Zach Johnson outlasted everyone at St Andrews to claim the Open Championship and his second career Major. While it wasn’t a nail-biting play-off by any means, Johnson is a more popular winner than many of the others who came close.
But within touching distance of both Jason Day and Zach Johnson was the boy wonder of 2015. The new World Number 1 Jordan Spieth has a green jacket and a U.S. Open trophy to show for his year. He could quite easily have had all 4 had a couple of putts and a misjudged start time in Scotland not hampered his chances. While he was clearly a student at the Hogwarts School of Golf, he also has that extra thing that many U.S. players lack. Charisma.
As the season has worn on, the television directors have started to realize that the inane (and frankly archaic) commentary that accompanies American coverage of Majors was better replaced with a microphone pointed in the general direction of Mr. Spieth at all times. His conversations with his caddy, before and after every shot are consistently entertaining and informative. Better yet, as soon as he has struck the ball he talks to it mid-air until it has come to rest. Some of his greatest hits so far seem to be: “Go hard!” and “Oh Jordan, what are you doing”.
When he wins he looks genuinely happy. When someone else is playing better than him he recognizes it.
Rory McIlroy has been a bit of an absent figure in the Majors in 2015 but now he not only has a fully-fledged rival for years to come, he also has a rival who can match him for box office power.
The Masters 2016 can’t come soon enough. And who would have though this a year ago… It doesn’t really matter if Tiger gets the chance to pull on a red shirt again or not. (Ok, maybe that’s going a bit far)