Darren Clarke: 2011 Open Champion
The 140th Open Championship comes to a close this morning (afternoon for our friends across the pond), and the front nine of the Final Round has already featured a great deal of excitement thanks to Phil Mickelson. As of 10:17am EST, Mickelson and Darren Clarke are tied for the lead at 5-under par following a monster eagle for Lefty on the par 5 seventh hole. Dustin Johnson is still two shots back (playing in Clarke's group) and Rickie Fowler is three shots back. Will Royal St. George continue to relinquish birdies to Mickelson even on a blustery day? Or will Clarke hold on to his hot hand this weekend and hold off a surging Mickelson?
10:25am EST - Darren Clarke nearly makes a 20-foot birdie putt on the par 3 sixth hole, but stays tied for the lead with Mickelson, who is within 10 feet of his own birdie on the par 4 eighth. Phil lips out his birdie putt to stay tied for the lead.
10:30am EST - Sergio Garcia makes a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole to get to 2-over for the tournament, capping off an impressive final round of 68. On a personal note, it is wonderful to see Sergio playing well in the majors again.
10:42am EST - Darren Clarke just made an impressive eagle on the par 5 seventh hole to recapture the lead and go to 7-under par for the tournament. In addition, the rain at Royal St. George's is blowing sideways on the golfers.
10:50am EST - Phil Mickelson turns in a front-nine round of 30 - tying his lowest nine-hole score in a major - and head to the difficult 10th hole. As quickly as the rain came through the golf course, sun has followed just as quickly.
11:00am EST - Mickelson makes birdie on the difficult 10th hole to pull within one-shot of leader Darren Clarke, who has just driven his tee-shot into the left rough on the ninth hole.
11:10am EST - Mickelson bogies the par-3 eleventh hole after missing a two-foot putt, presumably in a rushed effort; he now falls back to 5-under par. Clarke makes par on the ninth hole to move to a 2-shot lead over the field.
11:17am EST - The rain stops for Darren Clarke to hit his tee-shot, which lands just off the fairway. Mickelson plays his tee-shot on the 12th hole in the middle of a storm and finds a deep fairway bunker. This tournament very well could be Clarke's to lose now.
11:26am EST - Dustin Johnson birdies the 11th hole to get to within three shots of the lead at 4-under par. Don't count him out yet, folks.
11:40am EST - Mickelson bogies 13 to fall to 4-under for the tournament and three shots behind Darren Clarke, who pars the 11th to remain at 7-under par.
11:53am EST - Dustin Johnson birdies the 12th hole to creep within two shots of the lead now, and he still has a par-5 in his sights. Darren Clarke pars the 12th to stay at 7-under.
12:05pm EST - Darren Clarke and Dustin Johnson head to the final five holes of their Open Championship, two-shots separating these men on the scoreboard. Johnson rips his drive down the middle of the par-5 14th; Clarke hit his tee-ball just off to the left in the first cut.
12:11pm EST - Dustin Johnson hits his second shot out-of-bounds! A heartbreaking result to what could have been a hole he took advantage of in this tournament.
12:16pm EST - Darren Clarke pars the par-5 14th to stay fixated in the lead. Dustin Johnson makes double-bogie on the 14th to fall back out of contention. Phil Mickelson makes another bogie to fall to 2-under.
12:30pm EST - Darren Clarke makes his way up to the 15th green where he will have a chip and a putt to stay at 7-under par and firmly in control of the tournament. In other news, Clarke supposedly smokes, drives fast cars, and has the occasional pint here and there. Thanks, ESPN.
12:43pm EST - Phil "FORE RIGHT" Mickelson is finishing up on the 18th. He certainly provided a ton of excitement for fan across the globe today, but will fall short this time around. Dustin Johnson is quickly becoming the butt of many jokes over Twitter and the media with his continued difficulty in majors. Northern Ireland is going to have a lot of work call-offs tomorrow morning.
1:00pm EST - Rickie Fowler makes a 10-footer for par on his 72nd hole to make his first top-5 finish in a major. I wouldn't be surprised if we will see many more from that man by the time his career is through.
1:05pm EST - Darren Clarke has four putts to win his first major. Congratulations, Mr. Clarke. Well-deserved.