So close, but Spieth's Grand Slam dream dies at St Andrews

Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:24pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - When American Jordan Spieth sent his ball across the 16th green at St Andrews on Monday and seconds later watched it vanish into the hole 40 feet away it seemed the golfing Gods were smiling on him.

As the challengers for the 144th British Open faltered one by one the history-seeking Texan moved level with leaders Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman and he could almost smell the polish on the old Claret Jug.

However, even this remarkably talented 21-year-old, with strokes of genius and tungsten nerves, proved human after all as the infamous Road Hole claimed another victim.

Spieth played three superb shots to give himself a regulation six-foot putt for the par that would have sent him down the far more accommodating 18th needing a birdie to become the first man since Ben Hogan in 1953 to land the year's first three majors.

But the nerveless putting that propelled him to the Masters and the U.S. Open this year, failed him as the ball rolled wide.

All was not lost as a birdie at the last would have at least earned him a playoff -- and you imagine he would have won it, such is the aura he has acquired in his short career.

However, he sent his tee shot wide left and his though his approach initially seemed to have salvaged his chances, the ball spun wickedly backwards into the Valley of Sin.

His birdie attempt, up the slope, was bold and true, but the ball refused to drop and as groans filled the dank air. Spieth puffed out his cheeks and trudged off looking disconsolate.   Continued...

Jordan Spieth of the U.S. wipes his eye on the 18th green after completing his final round of the British Open golf championship on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, July 20, 2015.          REUTERS/Lee Smith