All right, let’s just go ahead and say it: For as great as the British Open was, the four-hole, three-player playoff was a bit of a letdown. It needed more punch. It needed more pizazz. But it didn’t have that.
And it had everything to do with Jordan Spieth not being there.
“Yeah, absolutely,” CBS golf writer Kyle Porter said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “And I actually like the British Open playoff format where you play four holes (and) aggregate score (wins). I don’t really like the sudden death (format). It makes it really difficult to get into, especially if all you have is one hole. If somebody makes a bogey, it’s over. It’s a weird ending to a tournament.”
Zach Johnson, of course, won the playoff, outlasting Marc Lesihamn and Louis Oosthuizen.
“If it had been a four-man playoff and throwing Spieth in there with those guys, I think it would have been pretty awesome,” Porter said. “So it had more to do with Spieth and less to do with the playoff format than anything.”
Spieth, who finished the weekend with a 274, missed the playoff by one stroke. Having him in the playoff would have been huge for golf, even if he lost. Johnson deserves a ton of credit for winning, but he doesn’t fit into the narrative as Spieth would have.
Was the outcome hurt by that a bit?
“Yeah, a little bit,” Porter said. “I think that you look at all three of those guys that are in the playoff between him and Marc Lesihamn and Louis Oosthuizen, and it’s like, okay, those are obviously very good golfers, but there’s nobody that made you get excited about – like a Spieth or a Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy. They’re a little bit – not unknowns, but they’re pretty common guys on tour. They’re ranked highly. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. But they’re just guys that maybe your common American sports fan doesn’t know a ton about.”
Johnson won his first major since donning the green jacket at the Masters in 2007.
“Now he’s won at Augusta and St. Andrews – and only six people, including him, have ever done that,” Porter said. “So it’s really kind of incredible what he’s been able to do with not being a super long hitter in an era that is super long off the tee.”
Porter thought that Johnson used his wedge tremendously and out-maneuvered a lot of players this weekend, especially on Monday.
“It was great to see him so emotional at the very end,” Porter said. “You could tell it really meant a lot to him to win at St. Andrews, to win another major, to win a British Open. It wasn’t a fantastic ending, but I think we got a fantastic champion.”