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'Today took as much out of me as any day that I've ever played golf'

After spurning a five-stroke lead on the back nine at the 2016 Masters, Jordan Spieth was heading for a similar crash on Sunday – before turning it around.

JORDAN SPIETH INTENDS to fully savour his Open Championship triumph, after exorcising his Augusta demons in extraordinary fashion to secure the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale.

Fifteen months on from spurning a five-stroke lead on the back nine at the 2016 Masters, Spieth found himself in the midst of another intensely painful collapse on Sunday as he faltered badly having begun the final round of The Open three clear of Matt Kuchar.

Standing on the 13th tee holding his hands to his head having hit the wildest of drives, the 23-year-old looked a broken man. He was already three over for the day – tied for the lead with Kuchar – and a double-bogey six looked likely to be the limit of the damage to come.

Yet the most remarkable of recoveries followed. Spieth salvaged an unlikely bogey after eventually taking a penalty drop – from an unplayable lie – on Birkdale’s practice ground and then picked up five shots in four holes in a sensational, tournament-clinching stretch.

PGA: The 146th Open Championship - Final Round At one stage on Sunday, it looked like everything was falling apart for Jordan Spieth. Source: USA TODAY Network

“Today took as much out of me as any day that I’ve ever played golf,” said Spieth as he addressed the media with the Claret Jug by his side.

“I look back on ’15 [when he won the Masters and U.S. Open] and thought, yeah, I enjoyed it, but I never realised the significance … until you kind of hit a low, hit a pitfall, to appreciate the high so much.

“This is as much of a high as I’ve ever experienced in my golfing life. And I’m going to enjoy it more than I’ve enjoyed anything that I’ve accomplished in the past.”

Spieth, who ultimately beat Kuchar by three after both men completed final rounds of 69, was fully aware of the scrutiny he would have faced had he failed to capitalise on another commanding position in a major.

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“Before the round, I thought I have a reputation as being able to close, but I was hesitant in saying ‘majors’ to myself,” he added.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself unfortunately, and not on purpose, before the round today, just thinking this is the best opportunity that I’ve had since the ’16 Masters. And if it weren’t to go my way today, then all I’m going to be questioned about and thought about and murmured about is in comparison to that, and that adds a lot of pressure.”

The turning point undoubtedly came when he rescued a five on 13, before almost making a hole-in-one at the next.

“The putt on 13 was just massive,” said Spieth, who frequently hailed the input of his caddie, Michael Greller, throughout his news conference.

“I was walking off the green and Michael held me up and said ‘That’s a momentum shift right there’. And he was dead on. And all I needed to do was believe that.”

Reflecting on his subsequent birdie at 14, which was followed by a stunning eagle on 15 and further gains on 16 and 17, Spieth added: “I knew we had momentum on our side and we were tied. And all of a sudden I felt and believed that I could win that golf tournament, when 30 minutes prior and really the entire day after the fourth hole I didn’t feel that way.”

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