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Golf Australia Express : Issue 3
ITWASN’T a matter of ‘if’ Royal St George’s would have its way with the survivors in the British Open field, it was ‘when’. Some Friday strugglers might even have been glad to watch the action unfold from the comfort of the clubhouse, such were the horrific conditions that greeted those who made the cut. US Open champion Rory McIlroy bleated that the driving wind and rain weren’t a part of the golf he liked to play, despite him growing up on courses just like the one at Sandwich.You’ve seen the pictures. He wasn’t alone. In the end there was only one man who could claim to have withstood the assault the course threw at the field for four days. Northern Irishman Darren Clarke started his tournament with a bogey and finished it with two, but filled the 70 holes in between with rugged, percentage golf that allowed him to capture his first major after 25 years of trying. His final-round 70 was his worst score for the week, having started Sunday at five-under, but in the conditions and with his rivals being blown away around him, it was his most significant. For a brief moment it looked like four-time major champion Phil Mickelson was loading up for number five. Starting the day at even par and five shots off the pace, Mickelson made a mockery of the conditions, lighting up the first seven holes with three birdies and an eagle to move to within sniffing distance of another title. But he, too, capitulated. Having made just two bogeys on the back nine in his first three rounds, the big Yank dropped four over the closing holes in his final round to pull the handbrake on his challenge. He finished in equal second place at two-under. Playing alongside Clarke, Dustin Johnson went the other way. One stroke back heading into Sunday, the American produced his only over-par round for the tournament to finish second with Mickelson. Clarke did what he had to in the face of the mounting pressure and icy squalls and showed almost no signs of nerves for a man playing the most important round of his life. Between the par-four fifth hole and the par-three 16th he made 11 straight pars— with an eagle at the seventh wedged in between—to stamp out any chance of a photo finish. The Aussies were disappointing. Adam Scott promised plenty in his opening two rounds and was well in contention at one-under heading into Saturday, but the course finally got him in his final round and he signed for a five-over 75 to finish at seven-under and in a tie for 25th place. Jason Day’s run of second- place major finishes ended in his third round when he carded a 76. Richard Green was the best- placed Australian, finishing in 16th place at five-over after three typically consistent rounds. OTG “IT’S BEEN A DREAM, SINCE I’VE BEEN A KID, TO WIN THE OPEN.” — Darren Clarke, Major Champion THE NEW KING OF THE CLARET JUG WRAP THE FINAL STANDINGS 1 DARREN CLARKE NIR -5 T2 PHIL MICKELSON USA -2 T2 DUSTIN JOHNSON USA -2 4 THOMAS BJORN DEN -1 T5 CHAD CAMPBELL USA E T5 ANTHONY KIM USA E T5 RICKIE FOWLER USA E 8 RAPHAEL JACQUELIN FRA +1 T9 SERGIO GARCIA ESP +2 T9 SIMON DYSON ENG +2 T9 DAVIS LOVE III USA +2 T12 STEVE STRICKER USA +3 T12 MARTIN KAYMER GER +3 T12 LUCAS GLOVER USA +3 CLARKE OF KENT