Final Round Open Championship Clippings, Vol. 1

23golf_slide11.jpgFirst, the game stories from an epic Open Championship.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian says Carnoustie "reaffirmed its status as golf's greatest and most demanding theatre."

James Corrigan in the Independent writes that this was "one of the most nerve-racking, most action-packed and, yes, most glorious final days in the history of golf."

Doug Ferguson insists that "the final hour was golf theater at its best."

Damon Hack in the New York Times works his lede around the bizarre meeting between Sergio and Harrington on the 18th hole bridge.

Now the photos.

Golf Channel offers up a nice mix of photos here. features, well, uh, let's hope this is the best of what they are not running in Golf World.

And has several fine shots, though no one seems to have captured the surreal bridge scene when Sergio and Padraig passed each other during regulation. Yes, I wanted to have some photo caption fun! Think of the possibilities!

Now, the players.

Padraig Harrington's interview transcript is here.

Chris Lewis offers this perspective of Padraig.

Sergio Garcia's rough interview is here...go easy on him boys!

Hugh MacDonald says this one will haunt Sergio forever...

Garcia played smart. An iron from the tee left him a 3-iron to the green. He had to wait an unconscionably long time for the green to clear and for two bunkers to be raked. One could have smoothed the Sahara quicker.

The 3-iron found a bunker. Garcia found a way out. And then a way to lose. A missed putt such as that on the 18th is a blow that produces a haemorrhage of confidence. The Spaniard could not find a putt all day. He was unlikely to find one in the four extra holes.

And so he sat in front of the world's press at 8.20pm, cursing the fates that conspired to deprive him of his shot at glory. "The week is over," he said with a voice tinged with tiredness and seeped in disappointment. In seven hours, hope had turned to despair. Top-class sport inflicts its hurt with the skill of a diabolical torturer. This will hurt Garcia forever.

196171.jpgJim Litke was much less sympathetic:

Sergio Garcia didn't cry this time, at least not where anyone could see.

Maybe he expected the rest of us to do that for him.

Martin Johnson was in his usual rare form, though maybe a tad harsh on the young lad.

It was so wet yesterday that the groundstaff were using buckets to bail rainwater out of the bunkers, but, for the second consecutive time in a Carnoustie Open, the squeegees had an even more serious moisture disposal task to perform. Drying out the shoulder pads on Consuela Garcia's jacket.

Sergio fell sobbing into his mother's arms after a round of 89 here in 1999, and it would be a surprise if the Kleenex didn't come out again yesterday following the even more emotionally draining experience of blowing a three-shot lead and eventually losing in a play-off to Padraig Harrington.

Fast forward...

Somewhere among the hard-luck messages, Garcia might find one of congratulation from Colin Montgomerie after the Spaniard sconed a photographer on the 17th hole on Saturday. Monty has been wanting to do this for years, but it's been a bit like his 63 attempts to win a major. Close, but no cigar.

Garcia not only failed to become the first man to win a major using a belly putter, but also the player with the weakest bladder to win one. He was off to the Portaloo as early as the third hole yesterday, and by the time he burst into a sprint to find one at the 10th, the nerves were such that this one might have involved putting the seat down.

And okay, I admit I agreed with this sentiment...

Just as last year, the golfing gods were not going to allow someone to win the Open dressed like a canary, then this year they weren't going to allow the Claret Jug to be won by someone using a contraption as alien to the spirit of the game as a belly putter.

Allan Pattullo has the best summary of Tiger Woods's week and the first evidence that fatherhood has affected Tiger's game.

Walking with Tiger yesterday was surreal. Normally, following his fortunes amounts to a campaign. In St Andrews in 2000, he performed in a cloud of dust kicked up by the heels of thousands. Within the ropes clumps of press and television reporters grouped, watched carefully by a line of police officers. To be there felt like being at the centre of the sporting world.

Yet yesterday was different. A drama was unfolding, just not here. Cheers would suddenly erupt, and heads would turn to another green, another fairway. Woods, too, had his thoughts elsewhere, and made some surprising errors. At the eighth hole, a bogey saw his name drop completely from the leaderboard.

A missed birdie putt at the next prompted a very un-Tiger like "f***" curse. Normally, this emerges from his mouth as the less trenchant "frick". But the Anglo-Saxon version came clear as a bell yesterday.

It was at the 15th hole that he as good as handed back the Claret Jug. Woods planted a tee shot into the right-side bunker on the way to a bogey that was, in essence, his surrender.

He probably wished to call it a day, hop on the private jet there and then. But enough competitive spirit remained for him to play the last three holes in par for a 70, which saw him finish at two under par for the tournament.

Afterwards, he sounded like someone who couldn't wait to get home to Florida, and to a waiting bundle who cares not a whit for his troubles on a damp east coast stretch of Scotland. "It's been a week, and it's hard to believe you can miss something that's only been gone for a week," he smiled. "But I certainly do miss them [Sam and Erin, his wife]."

196034.jpgRobert Millward looks at Andres Romero's improbable run that earns him spots in the PGA, Masters and U.S. Open.

"I feel very pleased, but the pressure suddenly caught up with me, especially the pressure at the last two holes in such a big event," Romero said through an interpreter.

His troubles began when he drove into the rough at the 17th and wavered between which club to use. Finally deciding on a 2-iron, he hit a sharp hook that dove into the wall of the Barry Burn, which sent the ball ricocheting straight right toward the 18th fairway.

The ball stayed dry, but it sailed past the out-of-bounds line between the two closing holes. Romero had to take a drop and switched to a 3-wood to reach the green. He missed the putt and staggered off with a double bogey, his lead suddenly gone, a weak smile about all he could manage.

"I hit a very bad second shot at the 17th," Romero said, "but I also had a lot of very bad luck."

196277.jpgGraham Spiers thinks he has the answer to the question of why the galleries were so subdued. It was bloody cold and wet.

It is nobody’s fault, but something in the air has been missing from this Open Championship. You felt it again following Woods yesterday, beneath grey skies, in front of quite a few empty seats and with accompanying galleries that were faithful in their pursuit, but not heaving or jostling for space.

Nobody can control the weather, but what has been missing this week has been that classic Open ambience of a hot, dry summer, thundering hooves and crackling excitement. Woods has the global fame that Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali once possessed, but you would not have known it from this Sabbath calm on the Angus coast.

Matthew Rudy says the combination of events this week prove that Open Championship is the best major in golf.

And finally, Claire Middleton offers several notes, including this on merchandise activities...

Rhod McEwan, whose marvellous antiquities add a touch of class to what is basically a marketplace, saw his dream customer arrive yesterday. "I've got £2,000 so show me the most expensive items first," said a Canadian collector who selected a boxful of books.

There has also been a decrease in shoplifting, though the folk at Callaway refused to give a description of the person who legged it with one of their £300 square-headed drivers. Apparently, nobody less elevated than the marketing director can talk to the press.