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Clarke comes through
July 17, 2011 - B.J. Lisko
Darren Clarke did what no one else in the Open Championship field could. For four days he stayed the course.
That's certainly nothing new of an Open champion. The guy who avoids a meltdown, round or in some cases meltdown hole, is usually the winner. It was that way in 2003 when Kent State alum Ben Curtis won at Royal St. George's thanks to a debacle of epic proportions by Thomas Bjorn on No. 16 that we saw replayed no less that 1,000 times during the telecast.
On Sunday it was Dustin Johnson shanking his second shot at the par 5, 14th out of bounds. Had he parred the hole perhaps he could have applied some more pressure to the North Ireland native. But it wasn't to be. Johnson faltered in yet another major.
Phil Mickelson looked unstoppable through 10 holes, then came completely unraveled by short putts. You almost never see that kind of hot streak continue at an Open, and for Lefty it was no different. It was a better round and tournament for Mickelson in the major that has been his worst, and he captured a runner-up finish and a new outlook on the Open. Suddenly it doesn't seem such of a stretch for him to win it sometime in the future.
Many others near the top came unraveled as well. But keep in mind, even if those around Clarke hadn't played poorly, he still went out and played very good golf. They always say make pars at the Open, and that's exactly what Clarke did. Good breaks? Sure, he had a few, but so does every winner of a major. Sometimes it's just your time.
On Sunday it was Clarke's, and it was a pleasure to watch. Europe's everyman joked on Saturday if he won he probably wouldn't be sober for a month. To that I say cheers.
Prediction wrap-up: I only had two of five golfers left headed into the weekend and both carded top 25s. Sergio Garcia shot a 68 in the final round and finished at 2-over, Tom Watson shot another 72 to finish at 6-over. I did redeem myself, however, by correctly picking the winning score in my opening day blog at 5-under.
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