By Ryan Herrington
9: 43 a.m.
Two female attendants sitting at the R&A’s information
station open shop for the last day at Royal St. George’s.
What has been the most unusual question asked of them
during the week? Neither seems sure how to reply until
one offers a plea more than an answer. “I’ll tell you what
… if I hear, ‘Where is the best sandwich in Sandwich?’ one
more time, I’m going to have a bloody stroke.”
11: 35 a.m.
The driving range is becoming cro wded with the
contenders warming up for play. That’s not, however,
exclusive to today’s final round of the Open. Also finding space on the range is Bernhard Langer, who missed
the cut at Royal St. George’s but is getting in a little
work prior to defending his Senior British Open title at
Walton Heath GC.
another nice par putt from just inside 10 feet on the third
to keep any negative thoughts from surfacing.
12: 25 p.m.
Sergio Garcia holes a birdie putt from off the green
on the fourth hole. The 3 is the first recorded on the
treacherous par 4 in roughly 40 hours. Sean O’Hair last
made a birdie there during Friday’s second round.
3: 15 p.m.
If Clarke can’t see Phil Mickelson closing the gap on the
leader board, he can certainly hear him. When Lefty rolls
in an eagle putt on the par- 5 seventh, after birdies on the
second, fourth and sixth holes, the roar from the gallery
helps note that he’s tied for the lead at five under.
4: 20 p.m.
The lines to enter the grandstand left of the 18th green
are roughly 50 people deep, but those in the queue are
optimistic they’ll snag a spot before the final groups arrive. “I figure two more big squalls and we’ll get a seat,”
says one man, watching how less-hardy spectators
have left each time a band passes by.
1: 30 p.m.
As a handful of players move back and forth from the
practice green to the clubhouse, an emboldened fan
sees if he can sneak by security and hobnob with the
elite. “Only members allowed in the clubhouse,” says
an official who quickly thwarts the plan. “But I want to
be a member,” says the spectator. “I’m trying to apply
in there right now.” With a blank expression, the guard
replies: “That’s really the best you can do?”
3: 30 p.m.
Tom Lewis’ opening-round 65 caught the attention of
many, including the Englishman himself, who hinted
afterward that he might speed up the process of turning
professional and forgo September’s Walker Cup. But
while claiming low amateur honors by three strokes
over Peter Uihlein, rounds of 74-76-74, as well as a little
persuasion from the R&A, have Lewis telling the press
he’s again leaning toward competing for the Great
Britain & Ireland squad before playing for pay.
Sensing Clarke isn’t going to come back to him, Mickelson admits that he has to become more aggressive
in hopes of making birdies and catching him. The move
backfires, however, as Mickelson makes bogey on the
13th after missing the green with his approach shot.
Combined with a missed par putt from inside three feet
on the 11th hole, it appears as though Phil’s impressive
front nine will go for naught.
1: 45 p.m.
To read Darren Clarke’s body language is to see someone who isn’t letting the moment get the best of him.
While on the practice putting green prior to his 2: 10 tee
time, the Ulsterman hits the occasional putt but spends
more time chatting with friends and fellow competitors
than grinding out the final moments before his round.
3: 41 p.m.
The skies open up with the first of a series of rain
squalls that will soak players for five-to-10-minute
stretches the remainder of the afternoon. Just as the
first drops fall, Clarke answers Mickelson with an eagle
of his own on the seventh hole, jumping to seven under
and taking the outright lead for good.
5: 10 p.m.
The last real chance of someone catching Clarke ends
when Dustin Johnson, two strokes back, hits his second
shot on the 14th hole out-of-bounds. His double-bogey
7 gives Clarke a four-stroke lead.
1: 52 p.m.
Jim Furyk, after bogeying his last two holes for a 74, is in
the locker room hurrying to pack and catch the charter
flight to Canada for the RBC Canadian Open. He is slow,
though, compared to his playing partner, Henrik Stenson,
who packs in three minutes after signing for an 80. “I
don’t blame him,” Furyk says. “I’d be out of here fast too
after making an 11.” Stenson’s round was foiled by a sextuple bogey at the 14th after knocking two out-of-bounds.
3: 53 p.m.
Tom Watson, the British Open’s version of Father Time,
finishes his final round with a 72. His six-over 286 will
eventually leave him T- 22. To put that in perspective, it’s
one stroke better than defending U. S. Open champion
The respect that Clarke has among fellow players is
evident by the fact that several from the last three
groups, including Mickelson, Miguel Angel Jiménez
and Thomas Björn, wait beside the 18th green to watch
Clarke finish off his victory.
6: 12 p.m.
With the trophy presentation minutes away, Lewis’ girlfriend, Lara Cornell, wants to make sure he looks good for
the camera as he picks up his silver medal beside Clarke.
As she straightens his hair, Lewis gives her a quick kiss on
the head before walking toward the 18th green.
2: 24 p.m.
Clutch par-saves can go unnoticed, but Clarke takes solace in rolling in a 13-footer on the first hole for a 4 after
coming up short with his birdie try. He takes the positive
feeling forward by making a birdie on the next hole and
Clarke’s destiny is apparent when his second shot on
the par- 4 ninth runs low out of the rough, looking as if
it will find one of two bunkers positioned in the fairway
50 yards short of the green. But instead of finding the
sand, the ball takes a fortuitous hop over the bunker and
runs up on to the green.
If Clarke has anything to do with it, the revelry of his
victory won’t be confined to friends and family. Thus
the champion golfer of the year pays for champagne to
be sent into the media center.