Jordan Spieth. Picture: REUTERS
Jordan Spieth. Picture: REUTERS

Jordan Spieth survived a roller-coaster final round at the British Open to emerge with his third Major title, beating fellow US golfer Matt Kuchar by three strokes in a thrilling duel at Royal Birkdale on Sunday.

Spieth carded a one-under-par round of 69 to finish on 12-under for the tournament but, after three days of consistent golf, it was a day of highs and lows for the 23-year-old.

The Texan began the day with a three-stroke lead but saw that evaporate on the front nine, where he made four bogeys and a birdie to enter the turn sharing the lead with Kuchar on eight-under. The drama began when Spieth drove wildly into the dunes on the 13th hole.

He was forced to take a penalty stroke after deeming the ball "unplayable" and after some confusion and a lengthy series of deliberations, he played his second shot from the edge of the practice range next to the television trucks.

Spieth scrambled to make a creditable bogey out of the par-four hole but that still handed the lead to Kuchar.

However, the sight of his rival alone at the top of the leaderboard appeared to click a switch in Spieth who responded with a birdie on the par-three 14th, where he was close to a hole-in-one. Spieth then brilliantly sank a 45-yard putt to eagle the par-five 15th and followed that with two more birdies on the 16th and 17th.

"This is a dream come true for me. It feels good to have this in my hands," a beaming Spieth said after receiving the Claret Jug trophy on the 18th green.

"It could have gone to either one of us but I got the good breaks," admitted Spieth, who celebrates his 24th birthday next Thursday and is the youngest Open champion since a 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros won at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1979.

Spieth, who won the US Masters and US Open in 2015, has joined Jack Nicklaus to become one of only two players to win three legs of the career Grand Slam before turning 24. Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his third different Major.

China’s Li Haotong soared up the leaderboard with a superb last-round 63 on Sunday and at one stage looked to have a chance of becoming the second Asian man to win a Major title.

When leader Jordan Spieth dropped three shots in his round, Li was only two behind but the American leader Jordan Spieth fought back and the 21-year-old world No107 ended up third, three strokes behind runner-up Matt Kuchar.

A day after South African Branden Grace fired the first 62 in a men’s Major championship, Li picked up seven birdies in a flawless round.

Li played the final round with South African Ernie Els.

"He was playing good and making putts," Els said.

Reuters

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