Clarke triumphs at Sandwich Open

The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's in Sandwich was marked by changeable weather and strong winds over the four days. Almost 180,000 people visited the course, gaining memories to last a lifetime...

The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich was marked by changeable weather and strong winds over the four days. Almost 180,000 people visited the course, gaining memories to last a lifetime.

The first round was dominated by Thomas Bjorn, who capitulated at the 16th green in the 2003 Open to hand the championship to a then-unknown American, Ben Curtis. He finished joint leader on five under par along with amateur Tom Lewis, playing with Tom Watson. The best story was saved for the last day. Darren Clarke started it with a one-stroke lead and was the crowd’s favourite to win. Having had many personal struggles over the past few years and being a member of the winning Ryder Cup team at the K Club in 2006 (just six weeks after his wife had died of cancer),  few people could think of a better first-time winner for a major championship. From the rough down the left side on the ninth fairway on the last day, the jovial Irishman thinned his shot and watched as it jumped over a greenside bunker onto the green, to the crowd’s adulation. Always a sportsman, he put his finger to his lips so that his playing partner had quiet for his second shot to the hole. Here he probably won the Open. His nearest challenger, American Phil Mickelson, playing three groups ahead of him, had briefly drawn level but was to see his chance go on the 15th and 16th greens.

The walk up the 18th for Clarke was the coronation of a worthy champion, who through adversity on and off the golf course had conquered the weather on a day of squally showers and could afford to drop a shot on the last hole and win the championship by three shots.

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