St. Andrews Golf Links is not only the most legendary golf course in the world, but maybe the most legendary venue in sports. The Old Course once again provided us with a terrific Open Championship.
It was one of the best Opens we’ve had in a while. Players like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Adam Scott as well as amateurs, Jordan Niebrugge and Paul Dunne both made runs.
Dunne was leading the Open going into Sunday, and had he held on to the lead, he would’ve been the first amateur to win the Open since the great Bobby Jones did back in 1930. That was a time where he got the grand slam and a time where amateur golf was much more popular than professional golf.
Ultimately, the (A) would finish tied for 30th on Sunday but nonetheless put on an incredible display of skill. Dustin Johnson was playing like a man on a mission and did great all weekend until Sunday hit, as he went from -15 to -7.
For a while, the leaderboard looked very similar to the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. DJ, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen (Last player to win Open at St. Andrews) and Jordan were all towards the top of the leaderboard yet again.
With DJ, falling off, J-Day, Jordan and Louis were hanging on along with Marc lieshman and Zach Johnson. Louis, Marc and Zach got into a playoff to see who would claim the Claret Jug.
Jason and Jordan both had great chances to join the three in the playoff but Jordan missed out on a birdie opportunity while Jason missed a 25 footer to tie it. Despite DJ falling and despite Jason and Jordan’s missed opportunities to get into the playoff, all three of these players (Especially Jordan for obvious reasons) have had monster seasons so far.
Lieshman, ZJ and Louis went into the playoff and was a fun playoff. Liesh was hanging on but it ultimately turned into a battle between Louis and Zach.
In the end, Louis missed a big putt that would’ve extended the playoff and Zach would go and win his second career major. Zach played great golf with his signature deadeye accuracy on a course that’s designed perfectly for power hitters.
He also dominated Augusta with pure accuracy through nasty conditions to win the Masters back in 2007. Augusta is also a power hitter’s paradise, specially on the par-5 13th hole where you get to the green in two.
Although the hope of many was that Jordan would keep his grand slam hopes alive with a win at St. Andrews, Zach Johnson is quite a popular player in his own right and is arguably the nicest guy in golf which makes him an even more popular winner. Zach’s win also put him a rare group, being only the sixth player to win The Open Championship at St. Andrews and win The Masters at Augusta, two of golf’s most prestigious courses.
Jack, Tiger, Slammin’ Smamy Snead, Faldo and Seve are the others to accomplish this.
And with his second major win, Zach is the fourth player in the World Golf Rankings top 15 (He moved to 12th) to have won multiple majors and the only one to have won The Masters and Open for his titles. Only others with multiple majors are Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson, currently the world’s top three players.
Also, according to GolfDigest.com, among active players, Zach has more wins than anyone on Tour with 12. Only active golfers that have more are Tiger, Phil Ernie Els, David Duval, and David Toms.
Zach has more majors than Duval and Toms however and is only two more wins from surpassing both of them as both Duval and Toms ironically have 13 wins and both won their only major in 2001 (Geez, talking about mirroring each other’s career!). So, if Zach wins two more, only the big three of Tiger, Phil and Ernie would have more wins among active players and that my friend is insane.
As mentioned several times, Zach Johnson is an accuracy machine. He’s hit 484 fairways out of 672 and the most consecutive fairways he hit was 28.
He’s also tied for second in top-10 finishes this year with eight, finishing only behind Jordan Spieth with 12. The young stud, Hedeki Matsuyama and seven time winner Brandt Snedeker are the only others with eight top-10s.
Here are some fun highlights from Zach’s impressive Open win before we wrap things up:
Zach’s caddie, Damon Green just seems like a blast doesn’t he? Almost like a caddie version of 1982 Masters champion, good ol’ Craig Stadler. A fun loving ‘WALRUS!” (In Marv Albert voice).
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 20, 2015
Some might have thought that Zach was leaving Damon hanging but I think he was just being respectful as Louis missed the putt to extend the playoff. Still a funny moment.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 20, 2015
Seeing this almost made me choke up as well. A win like this seriously couldn’t of happened to a better guy.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 20, 2015
So what’s going to happen for guys like Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Louis Oosthuizen moving forward? We already know Jordan will just continue to win and make a mockery of courses everywhere (Rory, look out!) and it wouldn’t really shock me if he won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits but am not making predictions yet.
Louis has seemed to found a zone again that won him his only major in 2010 at the Open Championship, also at at St. Andrews. One of the longest hitters in the game, and a solid recovery player, Louis could definitely make some noise for the third straight time at a major at the PGA.
From there? It’s anyone’s guess but Louis seems like he’ll be back to contending for another major again and he very well could do it.
So, what about Jason Day and Dustin Johnson? Both have played some terrific golf in majors yet just can’t seem to win it.
DJ’s major losses clearly eclipses Jason’s losses as DJ a few times has had the major in the palm of his hands and drop into the sand bunkers filled with scorpions, spiders and snakes (Eeeh!). Famously, the longest hitter the game and a very popular player, DJ probably could’ve had two majors right now.
He’s had a remarkable year after some off the course crack issues sat him down last year. He’s won once and finished in the top 10 in The Masters and U.S. Open and had the lead at The Open before falling apart on the weekend.
I’m sure he would like nothing better than to make a redemption at Whistling Straits where he infamously grounded his club in a bunker in which he thought was rough or dirt. This is a perfect time for him to turn on the jets and he’s knows the course.
It’s just a matter of if he let’s the 2010 PGA haunt him or not. He came out of the gate flying at The Open (And he’s off!) after his missed chance at the U.S. Open so who knows, maybe it’s all out of his head. It was five years ago after all..right?
I can see him making another run at Pete Dye’s “Bunker Paradise” though.
So, this leaves us with Jason Day. I’ll tell you right off the bat that he’ll get his.
When that is, I’m not sure but he’ll win a major or two. This dude’s an absolute monster skills wise and the scary thing is that he’s really started to figure it out with strong finishes at both the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
There’s nothing he sucks at. His only weakness is driving accuracy but he’s top 50 in everything else, including third in driving distance (Apparently, he has jet fuel in his driver) and hit the longest drive this year at 409 yards.
Crazy thing is that he’s not that big. He’s 6’0″ which to some of us is tall but most of the big boppers on Tour are tall such as Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Charlie Bejan and Tony Finau.
All tall dudes. Only exception is Rory who’s only 5’10” but J-Day would probably out-drive the crap out of Rors to be honest.
Does hitting long drives win tournaments? Not exactly but that’s the thing with Jason.
He’s not just a big hitter, he’s kinda good at every freakin’ thing. He’s second in birdie average and 14th in scoring average among key stats.
Will he win the PGA this year? Probably not, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he was competing again. I think he’s contended enough times in majors to not get the “major jitters” and his first real shot at a major was at the 2011 Masters, the same Masters where Rory famously fell apart. Jason finished in second that day.
He’s only 27 and has too much skill in the tank to not have a major soon here.
All of the majors have been absolutely terrific this year and am just as excited as you are about the PGA Championship. One thing I love about the PGA is how unpredictable it is because you never know who’ll win it and could introduce us to knew stars in the making.
Going back to Zach Johnson though; one of the questions that has quietly been going around for at least a year but has picked up steam since is; “Is Zach Johnson a Hall of Famer?”.
With 12 PGA Tour wins and two major titles to his credit I would say yes, but if not, then he’s so darn close. Freddy Couples got in with 15 Tour wins and a Masters win so I think the opportunity is wide open for Zach.
St. Andrews, thank you once again for another great Open Championship. Although it rains a lot in Scotland, the sun always shines bright on you.
And Zach? If there were 10 top five lists of “Nicest guys in golf”, ZJ would be in all of them. As for the HoF, I think he can at least crack open the pearly gates and peak inside the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @ChiGolfRadio as we hop on the ship and sail to Pete “Diabolical” Dye’s Whistling Straits! YAR!
Colin GP Mieczkowski
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