Monday, July 20, 2015

British Open -- Round Three Wrap-Up

When I was a kid, I used to make up my own imaginary golf tournaments, and I would invariably create weird, overly-dramatic situations of the kind that you virtually never see in real life.  But even I never came up with anything what happened at the Old Course in St. Andrews yesterday.  On a day that was cold -- but not windy -- the Old Course was back to yielding low scores, but not for everyone.  Dustin Johnson -- who probably should have won the U.S. Open, and who led this tournament for three days and two rounds -- was afflicted by whatever ailment afflicts him when he gets close to winning a major.  On a day when red numbers were all over the scoreboard, and there were stretches of time where no one seemed to miss a putt, Johnson managed to bogey the last three holes -- how do you bogey 18 at St. Andrew's? -- to finish with a three-over par 75.  That left him mired in a tie for 18th place with seven other men, including Rickie Fowler, who just barely made the cut but who shot a 66 to give himself a puncher's chance.

Johnson's collapse left the door open for everyone else to climb back into contention, and almost everyone did:

1.  Sergio Garcia shot a 4-under par 68 to move to 9 under, where he is tied with Justin Rose, Adam Scott, and seven others for sixth place.

2.  Padraig Harrington, who won this tournament twice back in the days when people were just starting to use smart phones (2007 and 2008), shot a 65 (7 birdies, no bogeys), to grab fifth place at 10 under par.  He's only two shots off the lead.

3.  Jordan Spieth, who said that he figured out something on the range after a fairly mediocre performance in the second round, shot a 66 (7 birdies, 1 bogey) to move into fourth place at 11 under par.  He's only one shot off the lead.  Lest we forget, the 21-year-old Spieth is looking to become the first man to win the Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British Open in the same year since Ben Hogan in 1953.  This is not something I ever expected to see in my lifetime, and now Spieth is right there with a chance at history.

4.  Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day, who seem to appear on the Heath Post about as often as Coach Calipari, shot a pair of 67's to move into a tie for the lead at 12 under par.

5.  And Mister Paul Dunne, a 22-year-old Irish amateur who just finished his career at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, matched Spieth's 66 with one of his own to tie Oosthuizen and Day for the 54-hole lead.  It was the lowest score ever shot by an amateur in the third round of the British Open -- beating out the 67's shot yesterday by American amateur Jordan Niebrugge (who's at 9 under) and English amateur Ashley Chesters (who is at 6 under).  It also means that Mr. Dunne is the first amateur to lead the British Open after three rounds since Mr. Bobby Jones in 1927.  (Mr. Jones was the last amateur to win the British Open, which he did in 1926, 1927, and 1930.  But in 1930, Jones trailed by one shot going into the last round.)

The British press tend to describe very dramatic sporting events as "real Roy-of-the-Rovers stuff" -- after this comic that I totally would have read had I grown up in Britain.  But even the boldest fiction writer from my childhood would have hesitated to make up a British Open featuring both a 22-year-old amateur from Ireland, and a 21-year-old Texan who is trying to win the Grand Slam.  I would never have believed that any golf tournament this year -- much less one without Rory McIlroy and where poor old Tiger missed the cut -- would include so much drama.  Lots of folks at work tomorrow will be checking the scores.

T1.  J. Day (AUS):  -12 (66+71+67=204)
T1.  Mr. P. Dunne (am) (IRL):  -12 (69+69+66=204)
T1.  L. Oosthuizen (RSA):  -12 (67+70+67=204)

4.  J. Spieth:  -11 (67+72+66=205)

5.  P. Harrington (IRL):  -10 (72+69+65=206)

T6.  S. Garcia (ESP):  -9 (70+69+68=207)
T6.  R. Goosen (RSA):  -9 (66+72+69=207)
T6.  Z. Johnson:  -9 (66+71+70=207)
T6.  M. Leishman (AUS):  -9 (70+73+64=207)
T6.  Mr. J. Niebrugge (am):  -9 (67+73+67=207)
T6.  J. Rose (ENG):  -9 (71+68+68=207)
T6.  A. Scott (AUS):  -9 (70+67+70=207)
T6.  R. Streb:  -9 (66+71+70=207)
T6.  D. Willett (ENG):  -9 (66+69+72=207)

97 comments:

  1. I've never rooted for UAB, and I'm not going to start with Paul Dunne.

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  2. Faced with the curse of Eric, Dunne immediately bogeys the first hole. The leaderboard now looks like this:

    1. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -13 (55 holes)
    T2. Z. Johnson: -12 (59)
    T2. P. Harrington (IRL): -12 (56)
    T2. J. Spieth: -12 (56)
    T2. J. Day (AUS): -12 (55)

    Dunne is part of a five-way tie at 11 under par.

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  3. You can forget about Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Johnson is 2 over for the day and 5 under for the tournament after 12 holes. Fowler is even for the day and 7 under for the tournament after 8 holes.

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  4. On the second hole, it looked as though Dunne had hit not one but two drives out of bounds. But it turns out that the first drive was not out of bounds -- it landed in the practice area, which is apparently part of the golf course.

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  5. Anthony Wall (of England) birdies the 11th hole to move to five under for the day and 12 under for the tournament.

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  6. Day and Spieth par the 3d hole, and remain 12 under.

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  7. Oosthuizen pars the 2d hole. Dunne takes his second straight bogey, and falls back to 10 under. Ashley Chesters, an English amateur who is five under for the day, is now Low Amateur at 11 under.

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  8. Marc Leishman -- who shot a 64 yesterday -- has now birdied 3 of the first 4 holes. He moves into the scrum at 12 under.

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  9. Adam Scott, still using the silly long putter -- when is that thing going to be banned? -- birdies the 6th hole to join the rest of the field at 12 under.

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    Replies
    1. Adam Scott is like the Bobby Bonilla of golf.

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  10. Zach Johnson birdies the 7th, and now he is tied with Oosthuizen for the lead at 13 under.

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    Replies
    1. Z-J has four birdies in the first seven holes.

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  11. Here's the leaderboard for Low Amateur:

    Mr. A. Chesters (am) (ENG): -11 (67 holes)
    Mr. J. Niebrugge (am): -10 (58)
    Mr. P. Dunne (am) (IRL): -10 (56)

    I don't remember ever seeing such a race for Low Am in any major tournament.

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  12. Spieth comes THIS CLOSE to holing a long birdie putt on 4. But he taps in for a par, and stays at 12 under. Day also takes par, and also stays at 12 under.

    Meanwhile, Dunne -- now having taken off his rain gear and playing in short sleeves despite the dreary weather -- holes a birdie putt on 3. He's now 11 under.

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  13. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -13 (61 holes)
    T1. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -13 (57)
    T2. A. Wall (ENG): -12 (66)
    T2. A. Scott (AUS): -12 (60)
    T2. S. Garcia (ESP): -12 (59)
    T2. P. Harrington (IRL): -12 (58)
    T2. M. Leishman (AUS): -12 (58)
    T2. J. Day (AUS): -12 (58)
    T2. J. Spieth: -12 (58)

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  14. Adam Scott long-putts a birdie at the seventh hole, and now he's in a tie for the lead at 13 under.

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  15. Harrington and Leishman both birdie the 5th hole, and they are now part of a five-way tie for the lead at 13 under par.

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  16. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -13 (62 holes)
    T1. A. Scott (AUS): -13 (61)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -13 (59)
    T1. P. Harrington (IRL): -13 (59)
    T1. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -13 (57)
    T6. A. Wall (ENG): -12 (66)
    T6. S. Garcia (ESP): -12 (59)
    T6. J. Speith: -12 (58)
    T6. J. Day (AUS): -12 (58)

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  17. And now Zach Johnson birdies the 9th hole! He is out in 31, and he now leads the British Open all alone at 14 under par.

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  18. Jordan Niebrugge, who grew up near St. Louis and who plays for Oklahoma State, makes his third straight birdie. He has now birdied 4, 5, and 6, and he moves into the lead for Low Amateur at 12 under par.

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  19. Spieth and Day birdie the par-5 fifth, and now they are in the group at 13 under.

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  20. On 6, Harrington has driven into a collection of gorse, and a small army of people are now looking for his ball.

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  21. Leaderboard:

    1. Z. Johnson: -14 (63 holes)
    T2. A. Scott (AUS): -13 (61)
    T2. M. Leishman (AUS): -13 (59)
    T2. P. Harrington (IRL): -13 (59)
    T2. J. Spieth: -13 (59)
    T2. J. Day (AUS): -13 (59)
    T2. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -13 (58)

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  22. The silly long putter is on fire! Adam Scott holes a long birdie putt on 9. He's out in 31, and he's tied with Zach Johnson at 14 under.

    Meanwhile, Harrington suffers a disastrous double bogey on 6, and he falls back to 11 under.

    Meanwhile, Sergio birdies the 7th hole, and now he's 13 under.

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  23. But Zach Johnson birdies the 10th hole, and now he is 15 under par. He is six under for the day.

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  24. Leaderboard:

    1. Z. Johnson: -15 (64 holes)
    2. A. Scott (AUS): -14 (63)
    T3. S. Garcia (ESP): -13 (61)
    T3. M. Leishman (AUS): -13 (60)
    T3. J. Spieth: -13 (59)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -13 (59)
    T3. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -13 (58)

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  25. Oosthuizen misses a five-footer for birdie on 5, and he stays at 13 under. That was a missed opportunity. Dunne birdies 5, and he's now tied for Low Am with Niebrugge at 12 under.

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  26. Spieth birdies the 6th hole, and he's now 14 under par -- only one shot off the lead.

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  27. Day also birdies 6, and he is also 14 under. This is just amazing, amazing stuff.

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  28. OK, I was offline for awhile. Zach Johnson has bogeyed 13 to fall to 15 under.

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  29. Marc Leishman birdies 9 to move to 14 under.

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  30. And Jordan Spieth may have just lost the grand slam. He hits a terrible drive on the par-3 eighth hole, and then makes a really bad approach putt, and then can't save bogey. He takes a double bogey, and he falls back to 12 under par.

    Meanwhile, Sergio birdies the 10th hole to move to 14 under, only one shot behind Scott and Zach Johnson.

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  31. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (67 holes)
    T1. A. Scott (AUS): -15 (66)
    T3. S. Garcia (ESP): -14 (64)
    T3. M. Leishman (AUS): -14 (63)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -14 (62)
    T3. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -14 (61)

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  32. So the players were generally playing with the end on the front nine, which helps to explain the low scores. But the wind will be against them on the way home, which will present a new set of challenges.

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  33. Oosthuizen bogeys the suddenly-difficult 8th hole, and he falls back to 13 under.

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  34. Marc Leishman birdies the 10th hole, and he's tied for the lead at 15 under.

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  35. On the radio, they report that Spieth claims that he plays better when he's angry. And sure enough, Spieth -- no doubt angered by his double-bogey on 8 -- holes a birdie putt on 9. He's back to 13 under par, and he's only two shots back.

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  36. Zach Johnson had to hit a driver, a 3-wood, and a 5-iron to reach the 14th green, which is 614 yards from the tee and protected by a stiff wind. But Johnson cannot make his birdie putt. His par leaves him at 15 under.

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  37. Jason Day drove into a pot bunker on the short par-4 10th, and he has to come out sideways. He will need to get up and down for par.

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  38. Leishman's birdie putt on 11 stops about 6 inches short of the hole. He taps in for par and stays 15 under.

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  39. On 9, Oosthuizen holes a long birdie putt. He's out in 34, and he's now 14 under par.

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  40. On 12, Sergio's drive goes into a pot bunker, and he cannot save par. His bogey will drop him back to 13 under.

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  41. Angry Jordan Spieth makes a SECOND STRAIGHT BIRDIE. He has followed up his double bogey on 8 with back-to-back birdies. He's now 14 under par -- only one shot off the lead.

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  42. On the par-5 14th, Adam Scott's third shot goes into a greenside bunker.

    On the par-3 11th, Angry Jordan Spieth whacks his tee shot to within about 20 feet of the hole.

    On the short par 4 10th, Oosthuizen hits his drive to the front of the green.

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  43. I should also point out that the players are now playing in what appears to be a driving rain storm.

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  44. OK. Lunch break. Will check in later.

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  45. The scoreboard speaks for itself (although it doesn't tell you that Zach Johnson made a very dramatic birdie on the last hole):

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (72 holes)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -15 (70)
    T3. J. Spieth: -14 (68)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -14 (68)
    T3. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -14 (68)

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  46. Mark Leishman came THIS CLOSE to holing a 90-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. He makes a huge par, and now he can probably win the British Open if he birdies the last hole.

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  47. BUT WAIT! JORDAN SPIETH JUST MADE A 50-FOOTER ON THE 16TH HOLE! It's only the second birdie of the day on that hole! JORDAN SPIETH IS TIED FOR THE LEAD!!!

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  48. Day tries to match Spieth's birdie, but his putt comes up just short. He taps in for a par, and remains 14 under.

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  49. Now here's Spieth at the Road Hole. He whacks a drive down the fairway.

    Leishman whacks his drive down the 18th fairway.

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  50. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (72 holes)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -15 (71)
    T1. J. Spieth: -15 (70)
    T4. J. Day (AUS): -14 (70)
    T4. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -14 (68)

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  51. Leishman had a decent birdie chance on 18, but pulled it to the right. He finishes with 130 over the last two rounds. He is 15 under par, and tied with Zach Johnson.

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  52. Day and Spieth have both missed the green with their second shots on 17.

    Oosthuizen drives into the fairway on 17.

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  53. Spieth is about 50 yards from the pin on 17. This is an enormously important third shot. If he can save par here, he will almost certainly do no worse than a playoff.

    He hits the shot and tells the ball to bite, bite! It stops about 8 feet past the hole, and he'll have that to save par.

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  54. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (72 holes)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -15 (72)
    T1. J. Spieth: -15 (70)
    T4. J. Day (AUS): -14 (70)
    T4. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -14 (70)

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  55. From well off the green, Day hits a long putt that ends up about 5 feet from the hole. That's a must-make par save he has coming up.

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  56. Spieth's par putt drifts off to the right. He BOGEYS the seventeenth hole, and now he has to birdie the last to make a playoff.

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  57. Day saves his par, and he can also get into a playoff if he birdies the last.

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  58. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (72 holes)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -15 (72)
    T3. J. Spieth: -14 (71)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -14 (71)
    T3. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -14 (70)

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  59. On 18, Spieth hits a drive that goes far left, over into the 1st fairway. With the crowd at his back, he hits a beautiful pitch that lands about 5 feet from the hole, but then spins backward into a little valley, and ends up about 20 feet from the hole.

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    Replies
    1. But I just want to use this opportunity to take one more shot at that awful U.S. Open course. Unlike that horrible course, everyone knew, as soon as Spieth's pitch hit where it hit, that the hole placement would punish him--and it did. ESPN showed Leishman watching that pitch, and, as soon as he hit, he knew Spieth had missed short and that he wouldn't be making the playoff. There were a zillion shots in that U.S. Open where someone would hit the ball really close to the hole, and no one foresaw any trouble--only to see the ball trickle 20 or 40 feet away.

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  60. Jordan Niebrugge is in the clubhouse with a score of 277, 11 under par. He will be the Low Amateur, as Dunne is 8 under with two holes left.

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  61. Back on 17, Oosthuizen holes a testy 10-footer to save par. He can get into the playoff if he birdies the last.

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  62. Spieth's 273d shot of the British Open is an almost perfect putt that rolls into a valley, up the other side, and is tracking toward the hole . . . but stops about 2 inches off to the right. His 274th shot gives him a par and a final score of 14 under -- one shot short of the playoff. He will not win the Grand Slam. But what a performance.

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  63. Jason Day's 25-footer to make the playoff appears to be on line, but it dies a foot short of the hole. He finishes with 12 straight pars, and he finishes with a score of 14 under. He will not make the playoff.

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    Replies
    1. I like Jason Day, and I hope he wins a major some day.

      Delete
  64. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (72 holes)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -15 (72)
    T3. J. Spieth: -14 (72)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -14 (72)
    T3. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -14 (71)

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  65. From the 18th fairway, Oosthuizen lands his shot almost exactly where Spieth's shot landed -- but Oosthuizen's shot stops dead. He'll need to make a five-footer to enter the playoff.

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  66. Oosthuizen steps up, and raps in the birdie putt! He finishes with a 69 for the day, a 273 for four days, and he will be in the playoff with Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman.

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  67. Excellent, excellent tournament.

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  68. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -15 (72 holes)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): -15 (72)
    T1. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -15 (72)

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  69. We will now have a four-hole playoff. They will play holes 1, 2, 17, and 18. The player with the best aggregate score will get the title.

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  70. On TV, a very tired Jordan Spieth says that "we gave it a really good run." Which he did.

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  71. Back at the playoff, all three golfers have birdie putts. Johnson and Oosthuizen are about 12 feet from the hole; Leishman is about twice that.

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  72. For the third hole in a row, Oosthuizen nails a huge putt. He whacks in the birdie putt on 1, and he is one under for the playoff.

    Now here's Johnson, who was last seen making a huge putt on 18. He nails his putt! He and Oosthuizen are tied at 1 under.

    Leishman takes a three-putt bogey, and he is now 1 over. Two shots behind with three holes to play.

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  73. Leaderboard:

    T1. Z. Johnson: -1 (1 of 4 holes)
    T1. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -1 (1)
    T1. M. Leishman (AUS): 1 over (1)

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  74. And the rain has started again.

    On the par-4 second, all three golfers whack their drives into the fairway.

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  75. Leishman pars the second hole.

    Oosthuizen finally misses a putt, and takes a par on the second hole.

    And then, Zach Johnson holes a 22-foot birdie putt to take the lead with two holes to play.

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  76. Leaderboard:

    1. Z. Johnson: -2 (2 of 4 holes)
    2. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): -1 (2)
    3. M. Leishman (AUS): 1 over (2)

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  77. And now we come to the Road Hole. All three men take the aggressive line straight at the hole, and all three make the fairway.

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  78. The rain has eased up. But it's still very gray.

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  79. Leishman can't get to the green on 17 with his second shot, and he takes another bogey.

    Zach Johnson comes up short of the green with this second shot, then has to pitch over a bunker, and then chips back. He's five feet away from a bogey.

    Oosthuizen hits his second shot to within about 70 feet of the hole, rolls a birdie putt to within five feet, and then MISSES the par putt.

    Johnson, therefore, has a bogey putt to stay in the lead. He MAKES it, and he leads by one with one to play.

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  80. Leaderboard:

    1. Z. Johnson: -1 (3 of 4 holes)
    2. L. Oosthuizen (RSA): Even (3 of 4 holes)
    3. M. Leishman (AUS): 2 over (3 of 4 holes)

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  81. Oosthuizen, needing a birdie at the last, crushes a drive down into the little valley just short of the green. Johnson takes a more conventional drive down the middle of the fairway.

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  82. Johnson is safely on the last green, about 20 feet from the hole.

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  83. Oosthuizen hits a perfect little pitch shot, and he's about five feet from birdie.

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  84. Leishman pars, and finishes the playoff with an aggregate score of 2 over par. He is eliminated.

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  85. Now Zach Johnson has a birdie putt to win the British Open. Unfortunately for him, if he does not make this putt, then he will probably be looking at sudden death after Oosthuizen makes his birdie putt.

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  86. Johnson's birdie putt just drifts off to the right, and he finishes with an aggregate score of 1 under par in the playoff.

    Now Oosthuizen can force a sudden death playoff by making his birdie putt. This is probably about 8 feet.

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  87. But Oosthuizen MISSES the birdie putt, and ZACH JOHNSON HAS WON THE BRITISH OPEN!

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  88. In 1998, Mark O'Meara won the Masters and the British Open, while Lee Janzen won the U.S. Open. That was the last time that Americans won the first three majors of the year. Thank you Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson!

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