SANDWICH, England -- Jordan Spieth is a three-time major champion. But at age 27, he's still learning.
Hard lessons late in Saturday's third round likely cost Spieth a second British Open, if not at least a potential playoff to win his fourth major title.
Maybe what’s most frustrating for Spieth is that they were mental mistakes, not necessarily bad swings, that cost him his best chance to win a second Claret Jug.
On Saturday, Spieth stood in the fairway at the par-4 17th hole, just 60 yards from the green. He would take four more shots to complete the hole, a poor chip leading to a two-putt bogey.
On the 18th green, Spieth had a 20-foot putt for birdie. His attempt slid by the hole and then he missed the 2-footer coming back for par and made a second bogey. Those two strokes proved to be Collin Morikawa's margin of victory on Sunday.
The monumental misses would move Spieth three back of third-round leader Louis Oosthuizen and, more importantly, out of the final group, which is crucial in his mind to winning major championships.
Spieth admitted on Sunday after a final-round 4-under 66 that he did not give the short putt at 18 his full attention, saying he “really didn’t think about it.” The result of putt, though, lingered.
“The finish yesterday was about as upset as I've taken a finish of a round to the house,” Spieth said. “I walked in and wanted to ... I said, 'Is there something that I can break?' I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group.”
Spieth declined all interview requests and made a beeline to the practice putting green where Cameron McCormick and longtime caddie Michael Greller worked with Spieth for the next 30 minutes.
The putting fix seemed to work Sunday, but after fatting an iron on the par-3 6th hole, Spieth found himself slipping down the leaderboard. He went from starting at 9-under par to 7 under. Meanwhile, Morikawa and Oosthuizen were both at 11 under.
Standing on the par-5 7th hole, Spieth decided that he had to go for everything and promptly made eagle to move back to 9 under. He went on to go 6 under over the remaining 12 holes, but each time he had a chance to inch closer to Morikawa, he failed. Morikawa matched Spieth's par from the 15th hole to the finish.
“I guess I made a big par save on 10, made a putt up the ridge on 14 and a par save on 15," Spieth said. "I needed a break, and I didn't get it from him. I did all I could. So, I'm upset because I really felt like I played well enough to win and made a couple of really dumb mistakes that, possibly if I had maybe played the week before, I wouldn't have made.”
Spieth admitted his putting was not as solid as it should have been.
But winning major championships is all about the player who doesn't have to reflect back and talk about "What if."
Spieth knows this and when he does sit down and reflect on the week, he will admit he was beaten by the better player on Sunday, but that he also may have beat himself.
More Final-Round British Open Coverage From Morning Read:
- 18 Parting Shots from the 149th British Open
- Best Photos From Sunday at Royal St. George's
- Collin Morikawa Rallies to Win 149th British Open for 2nd Career Major Title
- Jordan Spieth Regrets Early Mental Lapses After Runner-Up Finish
- Oosthuizen Fails to Close Another Major, Slumps Into Tie for Third
- Brooks Koepka Laments What Might've Been After Strong Finish
- Shane Lowry's Two-Year Reign as Open Champ Ends Respectfully
- Bryson DeChambeau Caps Humbling Week With Final-Round 65
- Final Purse, Payouts, Prize Money Breakdown for 2021 British Open
- How Henry Cotton Captivated England at 1934 Open at Royal St. George's