PRAYER ANSWERED: Stewart Cink claimed his first major title, defeating Tom Watson in a four-hole aggregate playoff to win the 138th Open Championship. Both men finished regulation at 2-under 278. Cink beat Watson in the extra session, 14 (2 under) to 20 (4 over).
Up until the 72nd hole, it was questionable as to whether Cink really had it in him to win a major championship. But he proved his mettle by making birdie on 18 when no one else who mattered could even save par. More than eight years after his U.S. Open meltdown at Southern Hills, Cink finally has his major. And it is well deserved. Unfortunatley, this win only adds life to the Twitter craze.
NOT OLD TOM, VINTAGE TOM: Tom Watson missed an 8-foot par putt on the final hole of regulation which would have won him a record-tying sixth Open Championship. Instead, he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink, running out of gas in the four-hole extra frame.
Cink got his named etched on the Claret Jug, but this will forever be remembered as Watson's Open. The 59-year-old defied all odds ' literally, since he was a 1,000-to-1 longshot at the start of the tournament ' and nearly became the protagonist of golf's greatest major championship victory. It might take Watson a while to get over his finish, but this is one story whose ending won't define the overall composition.
HOW THE WEST WAS LOST: Lee Westwood bogeyed his final hole to miss the Open Championship playoff by one shot. The Englishman led by two strokes after an eagle at the par-5 seventh, but couldn't maintain his advantage. Trailing Watson by one on the par-4 18th, and thinking he needed a 3 to stay alive, Westwood ran his lengthy birdie effort 10 feet past the hole. He then missed the comebacker.
Westwood can ask Cink for advice in how to deal with this defeat. Similarly, Cink believed he needed to make a long birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 2001 U.S. Open to have any chance of winning. He ended up three-putting, pushing a 2-foot par effort after a lapse in concentration, and missing the playoff by that single stroke. It took Cink years to recover mentally. Westwood should bounce back faster, as he's already visited golf's doldrums.
SWING AND A MISS: Lee Westwood may leave Turnberry the most chagrined, but there are several others who, too, will hang there heads for not taking advantage of a winning opportunity. From players like Ross Fisher (above), who actually led by two at one point early in his final round, to those who floudered from the start Sunday ' like Jim Furyk ' this will be a major that got away.
Seventy-three players made the cut and all were either tied for the 36-hole lead or within nine shots, which meant everyone who survived the first two rounds had a realistic shot to win. We don't have room to list everyone who deserves to be punished by driving Scottish roadways for the next month, so we'll just call out two notable offenders: Furyk and Retief Goosen. Goosen was 2 under to start the final round, but even with an eagle at 17 shot 2-over 72 to finish two removed from the playoff. Furyk was at 1 under after three rounds, but closed in 76 to tie for 34th. The Claret Jug was on a tee, and both of these major champs ' and plenty of others ' whiffed.
GIVE ME SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: Tiger Woods missed the cut in a major for just the second time in his professional career. Woods shot 71-74 at Turnberry for a 5-over total to miss weekend play by one stroke.
Tiger Woods didn't look like Tiger Woods. He looked shaky. He looked unnerved. He looked like the Friedrich Nietzsche of golf ' a man with no faith in his swing. So what are we supposed to believe in? The man who wins ever major tune-up? Or the man who can't beat Mark O'Meara at the British Open? All seems wrong with the golf world.
EVERYTHING COMES TO AN END: Padraig Harrington's two-year Open Championship reign came to a conclusion Sunday when he shot 73 to tie for 65th at 12 over par. The Irishman still has one more major title to defend this year in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
Unless Harrington is actually a warlock and can cast a magic spell that will give him back his swing and confidence from a year ago, he can kiss the Wanamaker Trophy goodbye as well. Harrington is a great guy and a future Hall of Fame player. Let's just hope this is a small stumble and not an Ian-Baker-Finch-like decent into golfing Hades.
YOU SILLY BOYS: Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle gave the British tabloids plenty of fodder for the back pages. Lyle started the tiff by bringing up a 4-year-old incident in which Monty was accused of cheating in Indonesia. He then fueled the fire by calling Monty a 'drama queen' later in the week. Montgomerie waited until after he completed his second round to fully respond, admitting the drama distracted him. Both men missed the cut.
Lyle said he hopes all this silliness doesn't affect his chance to be Monty's vice captain at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Unless Monty turns Amish, he's probably not going to forgive his countryman anytime soon. There's nothing worse in golf than being called a cheater. Two other things you don't want to be labeled: a quitter and a whiner. Lyle is doing his best to be remembered more for these two characteristics (he dropped out midway through a brutal first round at the '08 British) than for his two major titles.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Bo Van Pelt defeated John Mallinger in a playoff to earn his first PGA Tour win at the U.S. Bank Championship. ... Inspired by Tom Watson's run at Turnberry, three-time Open champion Seve Ballesteros hopes to return to competition at St. Andrews in 2010. ... Rick Rhoden edged Tony Romo to win the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. ... Brad Benjamin won the U.S. Public Links.
The win gets Van Pelt into the PGA Championship which is good, because there is no opposite-field event that week. ... Just seeing Ballesteros on a golf course would be a victory. ... Rhoden has now won eight of these championships. ... Benjamin will get a ticket to next year's Masters, which is more than Van Pelt can say.