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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 Open Championship

Winner: Darren Clarke

Around the wider world of golf: This was a week for Americans to come in second at the Open and at the Women's FIFA World Cup, but some Americans did come in first elsewhere. Chris Kirk got his first PGA Tour win at the Viking Classic; Russell Knox got his first win at the Nationwide Tour's Chiquita Classic (CORRECTION: Knox is Scottish -- my bad!); and Brittany Johnston won the ING New England Golf Classic on the LPGA's Future Tour. Elsewhere, if I read the translation correctly, Chie Arimura won the Stanley Ladies on the JLPGA. I suppose she'll be celebrating with Japan's World Cup team.

Darren Clarke holds the Claret Jug
I wonder how much Guinness the Claret Jug can hold? In Darren's case, I bet it won't be enough...

I'll admit that, even though I was pulling for an American to win, I'm absolutely elated that Darren won -- he's been a favorite of mine for years. I could wax eloquently about what a great guy he seems to be, but I'm sure you've already either seen or read all you need to know about his win at Royal St. Georges. Instead, let me just give you my views about how all the other "storylines" played out:

Phil Mickelson's "new attitude": Say what you like, I think Phil should get a passing grade this week, despite the apparent blowup on the last 6 holes. When I saw it, my first thought was that Phil realized Darren wasn't coming back to the pack and he started to press. And indeed, that's exactly what Phil said in his post-round interviews. That 6-under in a 10-hole stretch during the worst conditions of the week (that was Tom Watson's assessment, and he should know) may have been the best stretch of golf Phil has ever played. He even said he didn't panic when he bogeyed 11 because he remembered Greg Norman bogeyed a par-3 on his way to victory in 1993. And since his tie for 2nd is his best ever finish in an Open, who am I to criticize?

Dustin Johnson's third failure: This wasn't like Dustin's last two final-round stumbles. Essentially, he chose a decent shot but mis-hit it. One bad shot during an entire round played in hard conditions is... well, just being human should entitle you to that. Granted, it happened at the worst place at the worst time, but it was still only one shot. And since his T2 is his best major finish ever, I'm going to give DJ a pass as well.

Rickie Fowler's T5 finish: The Orange Man got his first Top5 in a major, and he played some seriously good golf. Given his success in Walker Cup and Ryder Cup play, I wonder if we're not seeing the beginnings of another Tom Watson-like player who plays his best in the Open. (And speaking of Tom Watson, another T22 finish is a sign we may not have seen the last of him yet.)

Sergio Garcia: A T9 and a round of 68, tying Mickelson for best round on Sunday. Best of all, Sergio was all smiles this week -- he even handled things better than Rory! This is just continuing evidence that we may not have seen Sergio's best yet. HOORAY!

Thomas Bjorn: Granted, a win at RSG would have been the storybook ending to his week. Nevertheless, his 4th-place finish continues his return to form (he's won twice in the last year or so, in case you hadn't noticed).

Of course, all of these storylines had to settle for the Silver Salver. The Claret Jug goes only to the winner.

But Darren Clarke's win is not just a "feel good" story, it's a "feel great" story. One of the coolest things I saw was a tweet from Darren that said:
"John Newton, my physio, called me the prince of darkness a few years ago and chubb and wayward loved it!!...hence it has stuck."
You've got to love a teddy bear nicknamed "the Prince of Darkness" because of how much he gets down on himself. (And given Darren's... uh... "bearish profile," I can't imagine what kind of workout he does that requires a physio coach. Isn't lifting all that Guinness enough?) Anyway, after Sunday's round I don't think he'll be kicking himself much anytime soon!

Let's face it -- Darren Clarke gives weekend golfers hope. So this week's Limerick Summary salutes not only the new Open champ but all his soon-to-be grossly inebriated fans:
For 19 years he's missed the mark
But 20 gave Darren the spark.
His victory Sunday
Means workers out Monday
'Cause Guinness will flow deep and dark!
The picture came from PGATOUR.com.

2 comments:

  1. I have to apologise for this late post but a combo of work and virus hell has kept me busy the last few weeks.

    Well done to Darren. Another exceptional achievement from a Northern Irish man and a great performance considering Phil was breathing down his neck. I still can't quite believe it. I'm a little disappointed by Rory's comments afterwards but he's young and was still smarting from a poor (by his standards) final round. I dread to think what I'd say after a similar disappointment.

    Anyway I now have a photograph of me with two major winners in it and one of them is not Rory.

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  2. Nice, JB. You're starting an enviable collection!

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