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open championship review

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hough not too much of what was written in the days prior to the 140th Open came to pass, Chubby Chandler, Darren Clarke’s manager of 20 years, did succeed in naming the winner. It was only by way getting round a particularly tricky press question but even so ... One of the golf writers had asked Chandler which of his two players of the moment, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, would be the more likely to come out on top. Not wanting to make trouble by naming one above the other, Chandler, than whom no-one is better at thinking on his feet, exclaimed, “It might be Darren”. The comment may have been light-hearted but it was by no means laughable. After all, Clarke had won in Mallorca at the start of the year. By Saturday night, the question going the rounds in the media centre was whether Clarke was in danger of doing as he did at Castle Stuart the week before in having a disaster of a last round on the greens. At Royal St George’s, he got off on the right foot by holing from 12 feet to save his par at the first. When that happened, he was very obviously in a state of shock. Indeed, it was as if he was stuck by the same thought as Louis Martin from the ISM management team … As Clarke plucked the ball from the hole, so Martin turned to this correspondent and said that that 12-footer could turn out to be the most important shot of the player’s life. There were two more testing putts ahead, a fourfooter at the second and a downhill and swirling tenfooter at the third. He made both and, from then on, it did not need a Bob Rotella (Clarke's psychologist) to tell him that he was putting well.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling – Again Lewine Mair's Open notebook captures the best from a memorable week at Royal St George's, which saw Darren Clarke become the third Irishman to win a major championship in the past thirteen months 26

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To the Winner Goes the Spoils: Clarke (top) basks in the glory; Mickelson (right) had plenty to smile about during what could have been one of the finest final rounds in Open history HKGOLFER.COM

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Youth to the Fore: Surprisingly, it was Rickie Fowler, not Rory McIlroy, who fared better over the links at Sandwich when the weather worsened

Another unforgettable little stretch in the winner’s fourth round came when Clarke walked on to the green of the short sixth and his eyes lit upon the greenside leader board. It showed that Phil Mickelson had joined him in the lead at five under par; the three-time Masters champion having birdied the sixth and eagled the seventh. This piece of news did not occasion any of the obvious shock Clarke had shown on the first green. As he would say, afterwards, “I can’t control what someone else is doing ...” Yet in his own way he did control what Mickelson was doing. He holed from 20 feet to match t he American’s eagle at the par-five and that particular thrust, as much as anything else, played its part in the player’s collapse. THE FINA L standings showed that the Europeans, overall, are not quite as far ahead of the Americans in the art of links golf as they would have you believe. Though Clarke won

in style, he and Thomas Bjorn were the only Europeans to finish inside the top seven, while Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, as everyone knows, missed the cut. Tom Lehman made as good a fist as anyone of speaking up on behalf of his compatriots – and he did as much from strength in that he was two-under to the leaders’ four under at the time. “I don't think,” said this former champion, “that it's easy to put Americans in a box and say they can only play one certain kind of golf – and I don't think that's true. “OK, the American way of golf doesn’t do a lot to bring out the players’ creative side but a lot of the guys have it.” Rickie Fowler, for one. It was Mark Roe, from the ranks of the TV commentators who, having followed Fowler and McIlroy over the first couple of rounds, noted that there were several occasions when Fowler was the more impressive in marrying his little chips to the humps and hollows.

Drive For Show, Putt For ... Clarke is already reaping the financial rewards of his Open Championship heroics. In addition to the £900,000 winner's prize he collected at Sandwich, the 42-year-old received a £2 million bonus cheque from sponsors Dunlop just three days afterwards. Clarke, with ISM stablemate Lee Westwood, had been on a no-win, nopay deal with Dunlop, which dictated that neither could claim a penny until they won a major. The contract was struck six years ago with company owner Mike Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United, the English Premier League club. Clarke is also sponsored by luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet, Stuburt shoes and TaylorMade – and it is thought that his final windfall from this event alone could reach a hefty £10 million. "To have sneaked into the Open and now to have the trophy and a huge bonus from Dunlop is just wonderful," said Clarke, who was already worth an estimated £21 million prior to the championship. Asked how he would spend the money, the Irishman replied: "I've been there and done it. All the things I've ever wanted to buy, I have done. I've lived like a major champion without having a major."–AJ

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It turned out that Fowler had something of an old-timer’s start to the game instead of going down the so-called “range-robot” route. His original coach had encouraged him to play every shot under the sun – and to invent some more. Fowler, who finished in a share of fifth place, had his first taste of links golf at the 2007 Walker Cup where he won three points out of four. (For the record, he and Billy Horschel defeated McIlroy and Jonathan Caldwell in the second foursomes series.) Philip Parkin, a former winner of the Amateur championship and one of Roe’s fellow commentators, happened upon a statistic which might interest those wondering where to put their money at next year’s Open. Namely, that Fowler’s last three rounds at St Andrews in 2010 and his first three at Royal St George’s would have left him as many as 10 shots clear of the field.

Old Head on Old Shoulders: Tom Watson (above) showed how Royal St George's could be played during the worst of the conditons; Dustin Johnson (right) was left still seeking his first major win 30

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WHO WOULD believe that a 61-year-old American could teach people from the UK how best to approach golf in the worst of British weather? Tom Watson was nothing short of phenomenal on the Saturday morning. No amount of wind and rain affected his equilibrium as he returned a 72 at a time when as good a links golfer as Paul Lawrie was amassing an 81. Watson never stopped smiling, never stopped embracing the conditions. “Well,” he said, “the conditions were bothersome but you just try to do the best you can ... You have to keep your grips dry and your wits about you.”

To no-one’s great surprise, the Watson way had something of a knock-on effect. On the Thursday of the subsequent Evian Masters, when the rain was as dramatic as any at Royal St George’s, you could not tell from the women’s expressions that there was anything amiss with the elements. They were like so many Tom Watsons as they went serenely on their way. WHAT IS it with that Phil Mickelson smile? One way and another, it certainly sends out mixed messages. It was in place at the start of his final round and remained intact even when he started missing short putts and catching bunkers. By the end, there must have been rather more than this correspondent itching for him to fling a club. TOM LEWIS, the 20-year-old amateur who shared the first round lead with Thomas Bjorn, did the right thing. Though, in the wake of his opening 65, he said that he was having a rethink about staying on in the amateur game to play in the Walker Cup, he confirmed on the final day that he would not be abandoning ship. Thank heavens for that. Had Lewis dropped out, a lot of the eager anticipation attached to the Walker Cup week (in September) would have been lost and, fairly or unfairly, the blame would have been heaped firmly on his shoulders. Both the R&A and Nigel Edwards, the GB&I Walker Cup captain, put pressure on the player not just to stay in the team but to stick HKGOLFER.COM

Johnson: Still Searching Dustin Johnson is clearly one of the finest players in the game, but unless the tall Californian wins one of the big ones soon, his will be the name the pundits will single out when it comes to recurring major disappointments. Johnson, who finished the Open in a tie for second alongside Mickelson, has now been in the final group in three of the last five majors – but has walked away empty-handed in each. At last year's US Open, where he held a three -stroke lead after 54 holes, Johnson struggled terribly early on and finished well behind Graeme McDowell. Then there was the US PGA fiasco at Whistling Straits, where he was penalized two shots on the final hole for grounding his club in a scrubby patch of land that was later deemed a bunker. The unfortunate Johnson made a triple bogey on the hole; although he didn't know it at the time, a par would have been enough for victory. This time, at Royal St George's, Johnson, to his credit, battled back gamely after being four-over through 10 holes of his first round by making three birdies and a back-nine hole-in-one to bring it back to level par. A brilliant 68 in the third round brought Johnson right into contention but once again, a costly mistake arrived at the worst possible moment. Playing the par-five 14th and only two shots behind playing partner Clarke, Johnson tried to crunch a twoiron to the green only to watch in despair as his shot caught the wind and drifted right and out of bounds. The ensuing double bogey gave Clarke a comfortable cushion and he was able to coast to victory. Said Johnson: "I finally felt like I got some pressure on him ... I had a chance but I hit a terrible shot on 14. I probably should have a hit three-wood ... if I had to do it over again, I'd do three-wood. Still, it's a major, it's the final group. I had a lot of fun out there."–AJ

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2011 Open Championship Results 1 2= 4 5= 8 9= 12= 15 16=

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Darren Clarke Dustin Johnson Phil Mickelson Thomas Bjorn Chad Campbell Rickie Fowler Anthony Kim Raphael Jacquelin Simon Dyson Sergio Garcia Davis Love III Lucas Glover Martin Kaymer Steve Stricker George Coetzee Richard Green Fredrik Jacobson Charl Schwartzel Webb Simpson YE Yang

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NIR USA USA DEN USA USA USA FRA ENG ESP USA USA GER USA RSA AUS SWE RSA USA KOR

68 68 69 70 70 68 68 72 70 69 71 68 65 72 71 71 69 68 74 69 70 70 68 72 72 68 70 70 74 67 71 69 68 72 72 70 70 70 74 68 70 68 72 72 66 70 73 74 68 69 73 73 69 71 72 71 69 69 72 74 70 71 73 71 70 70 73 72 71 67 75 72 66 74 72 73 71 69 73 72

275 278 278 279 280 280 280 281 282 282 282 283 283 283 284 285 285 285 285 285

€999,540 €474,782 €474,782 €288,756 €201,759 €201,759 €201,759 €144,378 €115,873 €115,873 €115,873 €86,997 €86,997 €86,997 €75,521 €62,194 €62,194 €62,194 €62,194 €62,194

with his amateur schedule until the match was over. Lewis, it transpired, had been all set to play in the European Tour's Nordea Masters following St George’s instead of attending a squad session at Royal Aberdeen but was persuaded to change his ways. “I guess that if I’m going to stay amateur, I’ve got to do as amateurs do,” said Lewis (pictured). BUBBA WATSON was on something of a charm offensive at Royal St George’s following events at the French Open. When asked if he had enjoyed his visit to Paris, Watson dismissed the Eiffel Tower as “That tower”, the Arc de Triomphe as “an arch in the middle of the road," and the Louvre as “a building beginning with ‘L’." Since that day, anything in the way of an outof-sorts outburst from one of the players has been labelled “a Bubba Watson moment”. Sad to say, young Mclroy, so gracious in defeat and victory in the two previous majors, helped to kick-off the collection. Having finished in an anticlimactic share of 25th place, McIlroy said a disconsolate, “I’m not a fan of tournaments where the outcome has so much to do with the weather. It’s not my sort of golf.” HKGOLFER.COM

1108OpenReview  

Lewine Mair's Open notebook captures the best from a memorable week at Royal St George's, which saw Darren Clarke become the third Irishman...

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