Crushed Kuchar pays tribute to 'great champion' Spieth

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Matt Kuchar was still able to offer magnanimous praise to Open champion Jordan Spieth even as he reflected on the crushing disappointment of seeing the Claret Jug slip from his own grasp.

As Spieth faltered badly in the final round at Royal Birkdale, which he begun leading by three shots, Kuchar found himself tantalisingly close to securing a first major title at the age of 39.

Having twice tied the lead on the front nine, Kuchar claimed sole possession of first place when Spieth made the most eventful of bogeys on the 13th, having driven way right and taken a penalty drop on the practice ground after a lengthy delay.

Yet Spieth somehow turned things around in sensational fashion, finding three birdies and an eagle in the next four holes to ensure Kuchar fell behind despite making two gains of his own.

"It's hard to explain. It's crushing. It hurts," said the affable Kuchar, whose pain was clear to see as he addressed a news conference.

"You work so hard to get to this position and to have a chance to make history and win a championship. You don't get that many opportunities. And to be this close, to taste it with five holes to go, it's a hard one to sit back and take.

"With five holes to play, I played the next four in two under par. However, I lost two shots [actually three] in those four holes to Jordan.

"So I can only control what I do, how I play. Jordan is a great champion and certainly played that way in the finishing stretch. It was impressive stuff and, when a guy does something like that, all you can really do is sit back, tip your cap and say, 'well done'.

"It was certainly a show that he put on."

Kuchar insisted he had no problem with the time Spieth took on the 13th in finding a suitable place to take his penalty drop, adding: "We knew we were going to be there for a while. We made ourselves comfy and told some stories. Certainly it was not anything I was ever going to be upset with. It's very understandable."

The Open runner-up also remains hopeful he can build on his near miss in Southport.

"As tough as it is to be this close and finish second, I am sure that it will lead to me continuing to work hard and push me harder to try to finish one place better," he said.

"I think things like these continue to push people. And I know that's what it will do to me. To be so close, to taste a victory and not be able to get it, is hard, but I'll look forward to the challenge of trying again."