The sight was Scotland. You could feel it, the tension, the pressure, the expectation. You could take a pair of scissors and cut thru it at the Old Course.
Zach Johnson won the British Open in an emotion filled 4-hole playoff, beating the ever-tough course, the constantly changing weather, then Louis Oosthaizen and Marc Leishman to win the 144th Claret jug.
Johnson, a former Masters winner, broke down in tears on the final green. Overcome by the emotion of the moment, or possibly the pressure of an amazing 22-holes of golf on Monday after four days of battles with the field, the St. Andrews course, and the Scottish by the sea weather.
The pressure was unrelenting. It took at 28-foot putt by Johnson to put him in the driver’s seat with four holes left in regulaation. It took a calmness to get a birdie on the first playoff hole. It took grit not to fold when he promptly missed a putt, and put a fairway shot off to the side later on.
But what Johnson was going thru was no different than the others, he just handled it much better.
Leishman, who had 1-bogey in a 36-hole stretch, promptly picked one up on the first overtime hole, and the air came out of his baloon. He was not the same golfer after that.
Oosthuizen, a former Open winner, made a pressure putt on 18 in regulation to get to the playoff, but then missed 4-and-7 foot putt in the overtime session.
It was some final day, with guys on and off the top spot on the leaderboard on the final nine holes of regulation. Jason Day was right there, but missed a putt at 18 that could have made it a foursome in overtime. His slumped shoulders, the sadness on his face, told the story of the pressur, and the highs and lows hole-by-hole.
Jordan Spieth was right there till the bitter end. A phenominal 45′ putt at 16, as the rain was starting to fall again, got him into a tie, but a bad divot shot and a missed putt on the final two holes, ended his hopes of continuing his Grand Slam drive.
It was a spectacular day of regulation golf. The four hole aggregate playoff was draining, and yet these guys stayed with it right till the bitter end.
For Zach Johnson, peaks and valleys, preventing devastation, then rallying with elation. Old Tom Morris, the patriarch of all things British Open would be proud of the players, the course, the fans, and the tradition. It was something to see in Scotland.