Soft spikes might have been among the least likely topics to emerge late in the telecast of the final round of the British Open on Monday.
Zach Johnson after his par putt slides by at 17th hole (Getty Images)
But when eventual winner Zach Johnson slipped on the wet turf on his second shot on the 17th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews and hit it fat, it turned a difficult par into virtually a certain bogey that threatened to derail his bid. It dropped him two strokes behind leader Marc Leishman.
"You'd have to pay me a million dollars a day to wear those things," ESPN's Paul Azinger said. "If slipping in soft spikes cost him a major championship…if ever there was a place for that to happen, this is a good spot, 17 a bogey hole for the field. When you're trying to generate all that power, the power comes from the feet. That's the reason there's nails on the bottom of your shoes. This whole soft spike generation, I don't know how they do it."
This isn't a new opinion for Azinger. As long ago as 1998, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he was railing against soft spikes. "I haven't bought into all the soft-spike propaganda, personally," he said then. He still doesn't.
Johnson might have bogeyed the hole anyway, of course, but a birdie at 18 ultimately enabled him to finish in a tie, and he won in a playoff.
Update: Turns out Johnson was wearing metal spikes, so Azinger's comments were unfounded.