Zach Johnson was the last man standing Monday after a three-way playoff ended a wild and whacky few hours at St. Andrews, where the final-round lead changed hands so many times that heads were spinning inside ESPN’s rotating broadcast booth.
"I’m confused. There’s a lot going on out there," ESPN analyst Curtis Strange said during Monday’s final round as Johnson held a one-shot lead at 15-under over a stacked leaderboard that showed Adam Scott a shot behind and Jordan Spieth, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Jason Day and Marc Leishman crawling up Scott’s back.
In the end, the 2007 Masters champion outlasted Oosthuizen and Leishman in the four-hole, aggregate-score overtime session after all three finished regulation at 15-under 273. It was, somehow, only fitting that the weather-delayed tournament took five days and more than 72 holes to complete, what with the dizzying, seemingly endless leaderboard changes.
Amid the musical chairs the pacesetters played on Monday, all eyes were on Spieth and his bid to capture the third leg of a calendar Grand Slam. He joined the leaders after his first hole of the day and for most of the round was right on or around the top spot.
With golfers burying birdies from everywhere, Spieth appeared to play himself out of the history books with an ugly double-bogey -- complete with a terrible chip shot and three putts -- on the par-3 eighth.
At 12-under and three shots off Johnson’s and Scott’s lead, Spieth’s frustrations flared as he threw the offending ball into the gallery. His anger subsided, Spieth followed Sunday’s plan of rebounding with birdies and did just that by going back-to-back on Nos. 9 and 10 to get to 14-under and two shots behind Leishman.
Alas, a bogey on the Road Hole, No. 17, and a chip shot that spun back down into the Valley of Sin on the 18th ended Spieth's run at becoming the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the season's first three Grand Slam events. This on a day when the leaderboard was so crowded, at times it seemed as if any one of the contestants was destined to hoist the Claret Jug -- even Garcia, with shots like this:
In no surprise to Sergio-watchers, back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 ended Garcia’s hopes of winning his first major.
Even a couple members of Tiger Woods’ pre-AARP generation got in the act early on Monday. Though Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington looked as if they could throw a scare into the guys at the top, the Old Course on a rare Monday finish proved to be no track for old men.
Lefty was rolling along and switching into overdrive for one of his traditional last-minute drives up the leaderboard when he spun out of control. At 6-under for his round and down to 10-under for the week, Mickelson reared back on the tee at 17 and put his ball on a balcony at the Old Course Hotel.
For those wondering why Mickelson did not conjure some 2014 Barclays-like #PhilWasHere magic, the ball was out of bounds.
A triple-bogey ensued and Phil signed for a disappointing 7-under.
Then there was Paddy, who got to the sixth tee just a stroke off the lead and proceeded to block his drive well right and into the gorse.
A search party failed to find the errant ball, forcing the three-time major winner to hit his provisional and take a double-bogey. He landed well off the pace, tied with Phil at 7-under.
Here is a complete look at the final leaderboard:
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SB Nation video archives: Urban golfing with a U.S. Open champ (2012)