Father-of-three Zach Johnson refused to get too carried away after winning the 144th British Open in a four-hole playoff with South African Louis Oosthuizen and Australian Marc Leishman on Monday.
Nearly a month ago to the day, Oosthuizen was beaten in regulation by Jordan Spieth at the U.S. Open, a tournament best remembered for Dustin Johnson’s three-putt on the 72nd hole when he had a chance to win.
Johnson sunk a snaking, downhill 20-footer for birdie at the last to get to 15 under and it was up to Leishman, Spieth, Day and Oosthuizen coming up behind him to match or better his score.
The victor sank a birdie putt of about 20 feet on the 18th hole, which implored a fist pump from him and an adorable little victory jig from his quirky (and coordinated!) caddie, Damon Green – who you can meet in all his glory in the hilarious video above.
“(Johnson) left the door open on 17, and I didn’t take advantage of that”, Oosthuizen said, referring to Johnson making bogey to trim his two-shot lead to just one.
Spieth hung around for the playoff, and walked out to the course to give Johnson a hug before the 39-year-old received the silver claret jug. After missing an 8-foot par putt on the tough 17th hole, Spieth needed a birdie on the closing hole to join the playoff.
He had a chance from 20-feet to seal the win but missed before Oosthuizen, the 2010 champion at St Andrews, lipped out a 10-foot effort to extend the playoff.
Johnson soon got ahead after he birdied the first two playoff holes and stayed one up on Oosthuizen after all three bogeyed the 17th.
Australia’s Marc Leishman after finishing the the final round at…
“I was standing there reciting some scripture that I have in my book just to keep me in the moment and I was getting prepared for a tee shot on 18″, added Johnson, who won the Masters at Augusta National in 2007.
The Texan won Tiger Woods’ charity event in California the week after the Australian Open and also won two regular US PGA Tour events in his sensational run this year. He said he was at a loss for words and didn’t like to see the tournament end on a miss, “But I am greatful and humbled”. “I’m just in awe right now”.
He hit his second shot into a deep bunker and, despite splashing out skilfully, a missed putt from five feet meant he signed for a five. “Just the silver medal in a major championship, especially at St. Andrews”.
The victor, meanwhile, was not the Johnson who was seen as the major threat to stop Spieth’s Slam. The leaderboards were loaded with birdies, and seven players had at least a share of the lead at some point in the third round.
The 21-year-old American was thrown off course by a double-bogey at the 8th and a wayward drive at the last.
He was ruing the eight-foot par putt he couldn’t hole on the murderous 17th, and the two poor shots he hit at the 18th.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who has now gone 67 majors without a win, and American amateur Jordan Niebrugge, 21, also ended 11 under.
Spieth now goes to the PGA Championship with a tiny piece of history left to chase. He shot 67 and shared the lead for the second straight major, and he has challenged in four of them since 2011.
“You feel like you’ve got a really good chance of winning rather doing it during the tournament or in the fourth round”.