IRISH FOLKLORE Padraig Harrington somehow survived a possible career-defining meltdown to win the dramatic 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie in a playoff over Sergio Garcia. His double-bogey on the 72nd hole was quickly washed away with a birdie on the first extra hole, en route to his first major championship.
The wildly popular and likable Harrington finally ended Europe's winless drought in majors, which dated, ironically, back to Carnoustie in 1999. But perhaps the most telling image of the day was the smile on Harrington's face when - after possibly throwing away his first major title - his little boy ran onto the green to greet him following his play in regulation. His Irish eyes are always smiling.
EXPLOSIVE: HANDLE WITH CARE Sergio Garcia blew a three-shot overnight lead Sunday, but reclaimed a one-stroke advantage on the last hole after Harrington made double-bogey. Garcia tried to play the 18th conservatively, laying up off the tee with an iron, but still made bogey. He then bogeyed the first extra hole and lost by one in the four-hole cumulative playoff.
This one will hurt. For a very long time. In his post-tournament press conference, Garcia seemed to feel conspired against by fate. If he hated talking about why he hasn't won a major before this past week, he may never talk to the media again after it.
THREE DOWN, ONE TO GO Tiger Woods was trying to accomplish something that hadn’t been done in over 50 years – win three consecutive Open Championships. Alas, he finished in a tie for 12th, five removed from the playoff.
Tiger defines success based on his major titles won. And this is quickly becoming a disappointing campaign. Woods has gone winless in the majors only three times in 10 previous full seasons on TOUR. He still has the PGA Championship left, but he tied for 29th the last time Southern Hills hosted a major, the 2001 U.S. Open.
CAR-NASTY NO MORE! Harrington wasn’t the only winner at this year’s Open. After being criticized for its set-up in 1999, Carnoustie received much more favorable reviews this time around. The winning score was 7 under, as opposed to 6 over, eight years ago.
Some pundits actually thought the course was too easy – but don’t tell that to those who had to play it. While scores were much lower, the closing holes were as devilish in ’07 as they were in ’99. Once again, what transpired on 17 and 18 will forever define this Open at Carnoustie.
GARY BEING GARY Gary Player created quite an uproar in his Tuesday Open Championship press conference when he stated that he knew of at least one player who had taken performance-enhancing drugs. He would not reveal the player’s name, but added that he believed no fewer than 10 players from around the world were using performance-enhancing drugs in the professional ranks.
It is not uncommon for the 71-year-old Player to want to re-direct the spotlight his way. He received quite a bit of criticism from the media, tour officials, fans and players – some of who will be a part of his International Presidents Cup team in September. The problem most had with Player’s comments was that he didn’t name names. Expect this issue to create a lot of headlines over the next few months.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES Seve Ballesteros officially announced his retirement from competitive golf Monday at Carnoustie, site of his first Open Championship appearance in 1975. The five-time major champion said he would still play golf with family and friends, but would focus professionally on his golf course design business.
The rise and fall of Ballesteros is mind boggling. He was one of the rare players about whom you can truly say, “There will never be another.” But there was no steady decline in his career. He reached the top of the mountain and then fell over the edge. Being that he’s only 50, it will be interesting to see if pride factors into a return after a couple of years.
ALMOST A MIRACLE In the wake of Argentine Angel Cabrera's surprise win at the U.S. Open at Oakmont last month, little-known fellow countryman Andres Romero was at one point alone in the lead -- by two -- coming down the stretch at Carnoustie. He ultimately finished third after a double bogey-bogey finish that included a botched 2-iron approach shot from the rough at 17 which carmoed off a burn wall and out-of-bounds.
Romero's scorecard was a sight to behold, as he played the final 11 holes without a single par on his card. In all, Romero posted 10 birdies, a bogey and a pair of costly double-bogeys that cost him an improbable victory. Somewhere, Phil Mickelson must have been nodding with an understanding of Romero's wild ride.
IT'S OGILVIE, NOT OGILVY Joe Ogilvie won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee for his first-ever PGA TOUR win. The 33-year-old Ogilvie played the final six holes in 4 under par, which turned out to be his margin of victory over Tim Clark, Tim Herron and Charlie Wi.
For Ogilvie, the win came with not only a robust $720,000 first-place check, but also entries into the Masters and the PGA Championship. And perhaps most importantly, he will start to chip away at the label of being called the 'other Ogilvie,' in reference to U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.
IF A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS... South Korea’s Seon Hwa Lee beat Japan’s Ai Miyazato, 2-up, to win the LPGA Tour’s HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship in New York. Along the way Lee defeated the likes of Janice Moodie, Laura Davies and Mi Hyun Kim for her second LPGA Tour title.
Lee, last year’s rookie of the year, was going through somewhat of a sophomore slump with just three top-10 finishes in ’07, but her victory Sunday will assuredly be the right tonic to regain her confidence. Too bad, however, that her march to the winner’s circle - in what should be a premiere event for the LPGA - was overshadowed due to being scheduled the same week as the British Open. It also didn't help the tournament that all of the top seeds were gone after two rounds.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Daniel Summerhays, who became the first amateur to ever win a Nationwide Tour event two weeks ago, announced he was going to turn professional; Tom Scherrer won the Nationwide Tour's Price Cutter Charity Championship; The three players who were in the playoff at Carnoustie in 1999 didn't even make it to the weekend this time around.
Summerhays, who would have been a senior at Brigham Young, must have still been fuming that he wasn't able to collect the $126,000 check for his Nationwide win; The 37-year-old Scherrer stormed into the lead on Friday on the strength of a sizzling 63, which included a hole-in-one. And did we mention it happened to be his birthday as well?; Van de Velde didn't even play in the event and Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard missed the cut.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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