Johnson eases to Open title win after play-off

Open 2015 winner Zach Johnson. Picture by Michael Gillen.
Open 2015 winner Zach Johnson. Picture by Michael Gillen.

The Kingdom of Fife threw absolutely everything it had at the 156 golfers who teed off in St Andrews this week.

But after the Old Course decided to play fair on Monday, it was American Zach Johnson who was crowned champion.

It was a unique Open, there’s little doubt about that, with play suspended twice over the four days and the tournament extended into Monday for only the second time in the competition’s history.

At one point on Monday 15 players were all within just a few shots of the lead and fancied themselves as suitors for the Claret Jug.

Of those, you had the experience of of Padraig Harrington while, at the other end of the spectrum, Irish amateur Paul Dunne caught the imagination and the support of the Scottish crowd.

Seven golfers, Oosthuizen, Leishman, Garcia, Day, Spieth, Scott and Johnson pulled clear of the rest and the tension was palpable.

All of them traded birdies and all refused to blink and surrender their chance to win the Major.

Dunne’s hopes ended by the time he reached the ninth hole but, his contention for so long in a tournament he led at one point, would certainly signal that it won’t be has last taste of life at the business end of a major.

As the wind and rain washed across the Old Course one by one the contenders saw their challenges ended.

Garcia and Scott were the first to slip away while the rest pressed on.

Oosthuizen’s challenge appeared to falter while Spieth, chasing his third Major of the season, clung on to the leaders with Day making quiet and steady progress.

Johnson headed into the club house as leader but by that stage it was Aussie Marc Leishman’s charge which saw him take control of the competition.

Down the back nine there was more drama than an Eastenders omnibus and Spieth tied with the leaders after an absolutely remarkable 40 foot putt on the 16th.

Leishman joined leader Johnson in the club house at -15 leaving Spieth two holes to either win the title outright, remain steady and join them in a play-off or blow his hopes.

An immaculate approach to the 17 gave him a chance of a birdie which put him within one hole of the title.

But he yanked his putt to the right and let off the two clubhouse leaders - before then bogeying the hole for the third time in his four rounds.

The world number two was unable to make the shot back but Oosthuizen gatecrashed the play-off with a dramatic final hole birdie.

The play-off tension provided an appropriate footnote to what has been an incredible five days in St Andrews.

In the end Johnson showed his class and dominated the final four holes to add the Open Championship title to the only other Major he has won, the 2007 Masters.