PADDY'S ENCORE: Padraig Harrington cemented his legacy Sunday by joining some of the legends of the game by repeating as the winner of the Open Championship. Harrington eagled the 71st hole after an all-time approach shot, thus being able to enjoy his walk up the 18th fairway - as opposed to his meltdown finish in regulation last year at Carnoustie.
It's amazing to think that Harrington almost didn't even play last week at Royal Birkdale because of a sprained wrist, making his performance all the more noteworthy. The Irishman battled high winds and a resurgent Greg Norman and is now - again - the 'Champion Golfer of the Year.' And isn't that one of the coolest labels in all of sport? It's certainly up there.
SHARK WEEK: Greg Norman came to the Open Championship after enjoying a wedding and a honeymoon with tennis legend Chris Evert, and, well, played like the legend he is. After 54 holes, he held the lead - as he did with nine holes to play - but couldn't overcome Harrington's late heroics, eventually finishing in a tie for fourth.
Wow, wow and wow. This was - and will remain - one of the greatest all-time golf stories. The book on Norman is well known: the majors won, the majors - many in heartbreaking fashion - lost. The private helicopter, the wine, the swashbuckling, go-for-broke style. Before there was a Tiger, there was a Shark that was the most feared of animals. And in the end, the Shark, unfortunately, ran out of air.
SAY IT AIN'T SO: Michelle Wie was disqualified from the State Farm Classic after she failed to sign her scorecard before leaving the scorer's tent after her second round. The 18-year-old had just finished her third round, carding a 67 to sit just one shot off the lead, before being notified of her DQ.
Just when Wie seemed poised to capture her first career victory, this slip up cost her the chance at a major breakthrough. But signing your scorecard is one of the basic rules that every professional knows. That was a mistake that cost Wie dearly, one you can be assured she won't make again. But it also highlights some of the game's incredibly stupid rules. At some point, the USGA will enter into the 21st century and do away will some of the most outdated rules known to man. Even Major League Baseball thinks the USGA is behind the times.
U-N-C-L-E!: The 1985 Open champion, Sandy Lyle, and Rich Beem walked off the course halfway through their first rounds after being 11 and 12 over par, respectively. It was something R&A Secretary Peter Dawson did not appreciate saying, "I think professional golfers should complete the round."
Beem's scorecard through nine holes: six bogeys, a double, and a quadruple; and Lyle's was no better. Still, you can understand why the R&A was unhappy with their decisions. Beem and Lyle knew what the conditions were before they teed off. If they didn't think they could compete, letting an alternate have a chance at it might have been the right play. Add yet another double bogey to their scorecards.
LUCK OF THE DRAW: Mother Nature played her usual role in last week's Open Championship, as a player's first round tee time determined their round's outcome as much as their performance. Driving rain and a gusting breeze from the Irish Sea greeted early starters, while those teeing off in the afternoon faced far more timid conditions.
As always, a little serendipity is needed to succeed at golf's oldest championship. How much easier were conditions in the afternoon? The average score was three strokes higher in the morning, as only four early starters ended the first round in the top 27.
THE UNLUCKY FEW:Some of the pre-tournament favorites were unfortunate enough to draw an early tee time on Thursday. Ernie Els and Vijay Singh each carded an 80 in the opening round, while Phil Mickelson shot a 9-over 79.
Without Thursday's 80, Els actually had a good championship, finishing in a tie for seventh with two rounds under par. On the other hand, Mickelson's struggles at the Open continued, and he now has only one top-10 in his 16 trips across the pond – dreadful for the world's second best player. Perhaps he'll join Kenny Perry next year at the John Deere instead?
OUT OF GAS: Perry came into the John Deere as the big story - for several reasons. He finished, however, almost as an afterthought, completing the event in a - ho-hum - tie for sixth. Richard S. Johnson won the event, his first career win on the PGA TOUR.
A soon-to-be 48-year-old, three-time winner on this year's schedule, the always low-key Perry drew harsh criticism from many in and outside of golf for his decision to bypass a major. That debate will never end. But what did end was his two-event winning streak. He admitted that all the outside stress - and the stress that comes with winning - had finally taken its toll. Said a suddenly somewhat perturbed Perry, “I don’t know. I mean, I’m doing what I’m going to do. I’m not listening to nobody else. Period." OK, Kenny, roger that. See you at Valhalla. Oops, we mean Oakland Hills. We think.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:Colt Knost captured his second victory on the Nationwide Tour with a four-stroke win at the Price Cutters Championship; Michigan St. junior Jack Newman defeated John Chin, 5 and 3, Saturday to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship; Jack Nicklaus made headlines after saying that today's players make too much money, and in turn do not have enough desire; Kim Welch, winner of the most recent Big Break, captured her first career professional title on the Nationwide Tour.
If Knost wouldn't have turned professional he would have been playing at Birkdale, but to each his own. Oops - and he probably wouldn't have just tied up his PGA TOUR card for next season; With the win, Newman has earned his way into next year's Masters, something he called, "a dream since I was a little kid."; Even though Jack probably has a good point - especially since Paddy Harrington earned about $1.5 million, more than 25 percent of Nicklaus’ career, some will certainly think sour grapes; Welch has plenty of game to go along with those good looks.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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