Final Grades for Royal St. George's

149th Open Championship

Grades – The Open 2021

Grades - The Open 2021
(Matthew Lewis/R&A via Getty Images)

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The 149th edition of the sport’s oldest golf major championship was noteworthy for a number of reasons. Leading the way was the superb weather — temperatures quite comfortable and Mother Nature benevolent in not offering much more than a light breeze to barely nothing more than a zephyr at other times.

The get together at Royal St. George’s marks the final major event in 2021. Much was learned and the key players were assessed on the performance they provided.

Grades – The Open 2021

Collin Morikawa / A+

After winning the 2019 PGA Championship on his first try it would have been hard to conceive of doing something beyond that but he did just that in winning his second major with The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. Morikawa fired a final four-under-par round of 67 — included no blemishes on the card and at the critical moment he scored three consecutive birdies, starting at the par-5 7th, to pull away.

The Californian-earned the Claret Jug in his first attempt — becoming the first player to have won two different majors in his debut appearance. He also became the first player since Bobby Jones in 1926 to win two majors in eight or fewer starts. Want another milestone? He ties Tiger Woods in winning a PGA and Open Championship before the age of 25. As the number three ranked player in the world, when your name is mentioned in the same breath as Jones and Woods — the future is indeed bright.

Jordan Spieth / B

Grades – The Open 2021

It’s hard to imagine the cycle that Jordan has been through the last few years. Here is a golfer who won the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale giving him three majors by the age of 23. At that time, he was the second youngest to do so since 1934 — trailing only Jack Nicklaus who was slightly younger.

Then for whatever reason — the bottom fell out for the gifted Texan. He didn’t win anything till earlier this spring at the Valero Texas Open. Spieth’s game still has its moment and at Royal St. George’s the momentum he was seeking to go into the final round was derailed by two mindless bogeys to close out the final round — the final bogey coming from a missed two-foot putt for par at the 18th.

Spieth languished for the first six holes in round 4, but an eagle at the par-5 7th was the catalyst in scoring a 66 and finishing in the runner-up position. Spieth is once again becoming a force — the main issue now? Eliminating times when his focus gets lost at key moments particularly with his putter.

Grades – The Open 2021

Louis Oosthuizen / C+

Leading any tournament after the first three rounds is not easy but when one does it at a major championship the steam that builds up in the kettle can be overwhelming. Many had not figured the talented South African would be unable to close out a second Open Championship title. The 38-year-old has been a consistent force in major championship play in 2021 with runner-up finishes in the PGA and U.S. Open events.

In the first two rounds he established a new Open scoring record for the first 36 holes with a 129 total. Oosthuizen’s rhythmic swing has been his calling card for his career but his play during the final rounds in key moments at this year’s majors was missing its usual efficiency.

Can Louis win a second major? Yes. But the reality says a newer generation of players is quickly emerging and the wherewithal to be in the mix and fail to seal the deal is a heavy weight to carry on and on. Oosthuizen has plenty to think about in the nine months leading up to the 2022 Masters.

Grades - The Open 2021
(David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Grades – The Open 2021

Jon Rahm / B+

After winning his first major at June’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines it became obvious that the talented Spaniard had crossed a clear threshold. No longer viewed as the talented player with a combustible breaking point but a golfer who engaged in a final round duel and demonstrated the resolve to make big time golf shots at the most critical moments.

Rahm came to Royal St. George’s with plenty of momentum and he started slowly with a 71 trailing Oosthuizen by seven. But he quickly righted the ship scoring 15-under-par for the final three rounds. Rahm has taken his game to a different level and having got married and having a son clearly shaped his maturity and overall resolve. Rahm will be in the mix for future majors and he may become the next gifted golfer from Spain to secure a green jacket next April.

Grades – The Open 2021

Brooks Koepka / B

Another quality performance for the man who plays at a far higher level in major events than regular tour events. Nonetheless, Koepka was more of the outsider and not really in the mix at Royal St. George’s. A 3rd round 72 stopped any serious movement up the leaderboard but tying for 6th still means the four-time major champion has the game to add to his total.  Never having won a green jacket is Koepka’s most glaring hole in his career he hopes to change next April.

Grades – The Open 2021

Dustin Johnson / C+

After winning earlier in the year in Saudi Arabia the possibilities for DJ to continue onwards from the success in 2020 looked promising. That promise did not happen and only recently has Dustin showed some of his renowned skills.

The Open Championship got interesting for him after two rounds being just four shots off the lead. Saturday’s 3rd round was a big-time disappointment scoring a lackluster 73. DJ recovered in the final round with a sharper 67 but at this point in his career a tie for 8th is not what he expects.

Johnson made the smart move for him in bypassing the Olympics and he has a number of key events coming up — most notably the FedEx Cup Playoffs to re-establish himself as the game’s premier player. The next two months are important for him to get back to the form he’s capable of showcasing.

(Warren Little/R&A via Getty Images)

Grades – The Open 2021

Bryson DeChambeau / D+

A final round 65 was a sign Bryson can still get zoned into playing but the first three rounds were hardly memorable. Too much of his time was wasted in the self-created driver controversy at his post first round press meeting. Sideshows of that kind are truly inane at any event – let alone a major championship.

DeChambeau is very talented golfer but for whatever reason the 27-year-old cannot control his desire to blame all of his shortcomings on others. Fortunately, his equipment company pushed back to his juvenile musings.

It’s time for Bryson to understand being viewed as the guy who hits a golf ball far only matters when you put the low numbers up to go with the power. And when you don’t succeed do what other great golfers have done in past years — take ownership and demonstrate a modicum of real humility. 

Grades – The Open 2021

R & A / B+

After dealing with a cancellation in 2020 and needing to go through a series of protocols in dealing with this year’s event, the R&A did a superb job in setting up the course properly. Royal St. George’s is not a favorite of many players, however, the layout provided opportunities for low scores but only when high level execution accompanied it.

The R&A was blessed with ideal weather for the balance of the event and the only real meaningful issue came from Pete Cowen, Rory McIlroy’s coach, who opined the R&A needs to implement a double tee times situation for the players to minimize the vagaries of weather that comes with the usual fickle situations generally encountered at The Open. That would mean players commencing rounds at the 1st and 10th holes. It’s a worthy suggestion and one can only hope the R&A implements.

The momentum from Royal St. George’s can now serve as a springboard for the 150th Oper Championship next year at The Old Course at St. Andrews.

Grades - The Open 2021
(David Cannon/R&A via Getty Images)

Grades – The Open 2021

Share this article