Cink tops Watson in Open playoff

By Doug FergusonJuly 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' Watson stood over an 8-foot par putt Sunday evening on the final hole of a mystical British Open, one stroke away from becoming the oldest major champion in history. For the first time all week, he showed his 59-year-old nerves.
 
The putt never had a chance.
 
A little more than an hour later, neither did Watson.
 
Stewart Cink, who made a 12-foot birdie on the final hole of regulation, took advantage of Watsons missed opportunity and overwhelmed him in the four-hole playoff to win by six shots.
 
Stewart Cink
In his 12th try, Stewart Cink finally won the British Open. (Getty Images)
Watson stood on the 18th tee one last time, blinking away tears. He wasnt alone in his sadness. Thousands of fans who filled the grandstands for the first time all week sat in stunned silence.
 
Cink, who was never atop the leaderboard all week until Watson missed the winning putt, was flawless in the playoff and finished with two birdies. As he gazed at the fabled Claret Jug, he paid his due to Watson, the modern-day King of the Links.
 
I dont even know what to say, Cink said. My hats off to him. He turned back the clock. Just did a great job. I speak for all the rest of the people here, too.
 
Indeed, he did. The loudest cheer was for the player who won the silver medal.
 
Cinks birdie gave him 69, and at 2-under 278, it looked as though he would be the runner-up.
 
It was almost, Watson said. The dream almost came true.
 
Tied with three other players along the back nine on a breezy afternoon, Watson two-putted for par on the tough 16th hole, where his challengers all made bogey to fall back. Then he made an easy birdie on the par-5 17th, giving him a one-shot lead as this unforgettable British Open reached a crescendo.
 
From the middle of the 18th fairway, Watson hit 8-iron and followed its flight, right at the flag. It bounded through the green, and his putt back up the slope ran 8 feet past the hole.
 
Watson steadied himself over the par putt, and thousands of fans braced themselves.
 
All week long, as Watson kept his name atop the leaderboard, there was a feeling that he couldnt hold up over four days and 72 holes. Now, he was 8 feet away from the unthinkable.
 
The drama ended as the ball wobbled off the blade, obvious that it wasnt struck hard enough. Watsons shoulders slumped.
 
I made a lousy putt, he said. Then in the playoff, it was bad shot after another.
 
For the first time all week, Watson looked tired. His approach to the first playoff hole, No. 5, tumbled into a pot bunker and led to bogey to fall one shot behind. After a remarkable par save on the par-3 sixth, Watson came undone.
 
He hooked his tee shot on the 17th into grass so deep it took him two hacks to get back to the fairway. He three-putted for a double bogey, while Cink played safe and smart for a two-putt birdie and a four-shot lead.
 
Cink, born two years before Watson won his first Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1973, captured his first major and sixth career victory. He will move to No. 9 in the world.
 
Its been a surreal experience for me, Cink said. Not only playing one of my favorite courses and a wonderful tournament, but playing against Tom Watson. This stuff doesnt happen. I grew up watching him on TV, hoping to follow in his footsteps, not playing against him.
 
Rarely does a major championship end like this one ' to polite applause from a gallery of long faces.
 
Some of these fans were at Turnberry in 1977 when Watson beat Jack Nicklaus in the famous Duel in the Sun, the signature victory among Watsons eight majors.
 
He just couldnt beat Father Time.
 
It was fun to be in the mix again, having kids who are my kids age saying, What are you doing out here? It was nice showing them you can still play, Watson said. Im sure Ill take some good things from it. But its still a disappointment.
 
Watson wasnt alone in that disappointment. Three other players had at least a share of the lead in a final round where fortunes shifted with the sea breeze off the Firth of Clyde.
 
Lee Westwood of England had a one-shot lead with four holes to play until making back-to-back bogeys. He battled to the end, however, and made a bold swing from a pot bunker in the 18th fairway. The ball cleared the sodden wall by an inch and somehow reached the front of the green. One shot behind, with Watson in the fairway behind him, he felt his only hope was to make the 70-foot putt.
 
He ran it about 8 feet by the hole, then missed the next one and took bogey. Westwood was saddened to see Watson miss the putt for other reasons ' he shot 71 and finished one shot out of the playoff.
 
Gone from frustration to sickness now, he said.
 
Chris Wood, missing only an s in his name to give the weekend some normalcy after Tiger Woods missed the cut, shot 67 despite a bogey on the last hole. He tied for third with Westwood, finishing nearly two hours before Watson missed the decisive putt.
 
Mathew Goggin, who played in the final pairing with Watson, also was tied for the lead and had a chance to seize control until badly missing an 8-foot birdie putt on the 13th. He followed with three straight bogeys and shot 73, two shots behind.
 
Then there was Ross Fisher, not even sure he would play Sunday if his wife had gone into labor. He birdied the first two holes and was two shots ahead until he chopped away in high grass on both sides of the fifth fairway and took a quadruple-bogey 8. Fisher didnt make another birdie the rest of the day and shot 75.
 
It was the highest winning score in the four Opens held at Turnberry.
 
The closest Cink had ever come to winning a major was the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, when he missed an 18-inch bogey putt on the last hole while trying to clear the stage for Retief Goosen, never suspecting Goosen would three-putt from 12 feet. Cink wound up missing the playoff by one shot.
 
Now, his name is on the oldest trophy in golf, joining the likes of Woods, Nicklaus and Watson, the man he beat.
 
The same Tom Watson that won this tournament in 77, the same guy showed up here this week, Cink said. And he just about did it. He beat everybody but one guy. And it was really special.
 
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    Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

    Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

    Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

    Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


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    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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    Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

    In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

    Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

    With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


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    "Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

    So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

    "I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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    Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

    Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

    On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

    And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

    "I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

    "I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

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    Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

    He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

    Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

    With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

    But he isn't celebrating just yet.

    "It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

    "So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."