Teenager Jordan Spieth earned a place in next week’s Open Championship after winning the John Deere Classic in a five-hole play-off.
The 19-year-old only reached the play-off after holing from a bunker at the 72nd hole but held his nerve to beat former Masters champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn, the Canadian 15 years Spieth’s senior.
It earned him $828,000 (€633,000) 500 FedEx Cup points and a ticket to Muirfield, but he said: “Right now I’m just happy I won the John Deere.”
Spieth birdied five of the last six holes, rounded off by that memorable pitch in from sand at the last, to set the clubhouse target at 19 under par.
He returned to the practice ground and waited to see if Johnson, one ahead, would slip up – which he did, sending his chip at the 18th through the green and to the edge of the water.
He got up and down for bogey to finish 19 under and the pair were joined by Hearn, who took a zig-zagging route through the rough before coolly holing out for par.
All three parred the 18th twice as the play-off began, Johnson’s chip lipping out the first time before he missed from 12 feet the second time.
More pars followed with two-putts on the par-three 16th, Spieth after only finding the front fringe, and the trio made contrasting pars at the par-five 17th.
Spieth’s tee-shot found the left rough and Johnson put his approach in a bunker in front of the green but a stunned Hearn saw a five-foot putt lip out, sparking a stampede back to the 18th even as Johnson holed out to stay in the game.
All three found the right rough and Johnson’s escape rebounded off a tree into the water, Spieth taking the initiative with a good punch just through the green.
Hearn could not make his par putt and Spieth, after calming the crowd, rolled in a short putt to win.