Final Round Open Championship Clippings, Vol. 3

openlogo.jpgEven with the allure of links golf outside their windows, golf's finest scribblers produced some excellent reflections Monday. Though they still missed one major, huge, enormous, earth-shattering story (I'll get to that in a moment).

Doug Ferguson reflects on Padraig Harrington's win, his hard working nature and the state of European golf.

James Corrigan talks to Harrington after a night's sleep...

 "We went to bed about 4am and I woke up about six, just wide awake," explained her husband. "I woke up my wife and said, 'I actually did it - I am the Open champion'. The trophy was at the end of the bed and both of us were just looking at it in awe. Caroline was kind of, 'Yeah, I can't believe there's the trophy and everything, but can we go back to sleep now?'" She was not allowed to.

There was just so much to take in for Padraig and the rest of the Harringtons as the scale of his triumph became apparent. In Ireland, their first major champion in 60 years - indeed, only their second major champion ever - was already being crowned their biggest sports star. By extension, Harrington's thrilling play-off victory over Sergio Garcia was being voted on radio shows as the finest individual achievement in the history of Irish sport.

This is amazing...

"You know, I just can't wait to watch this tournament on TV as I had no concept of some of the things that went on," he said. "For a start I didn't realise until 11.30 last night that Andres Romero had a two-shot lead with two to play. No idea at all. That just shows how in the zone I was and what a good place I was in."

Padraig quickly used his newfound authority to call on the Open to return to Ireland. And David Hill of the R&A quickly shot that down.

"Portrush is a fantastic course and I looked at it in great detail about five or six years ago. It would be a fantastic venue, but only for about 15,000 people a day."

More than twice than figure watched Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a play-off at Carnoustie on Sunday.

The K Club near Dublin was the first Irish venue to stage the Ryder Cup last September. However, Hill added: "It's also referred to as the Open Championship played in Great Britain. That's where it lies at the moment, but it's never a closed book."

Well, I think we can close the book on the K Club.

Uh, has anyone ever heard of it referred to as the Open Championship played in Great Britain? Should that be in all caps?

The Principal clips some of the best photos from Sunday and offers profound captions.

USA Today's Michael Hiestand loved ABC's British Open telecast, though he fails to acknowledge that it was actually ESPN on ABC. Shameful. And as Chris Lewis noticed that readers at weren't so enamored. Did Mike Tirico quietly confirm at the end of Sunday's telecast that ABC err ESPN on ABC's Faldo-Azinger would not be back next year by suggesting the next time we'll see them is the 2008 Ryder Cup?

Okay, and completely missed was the news that Sergio jumped from 22nd to 11th and Padraig from 79th to 19th in Fed Ex Cup points.

Now this is an important delineation because we know that in the simulations, the top 3 seeds will need a win, two “mid-pack” finishes and a week off to win the FedEx Cup, the 4-8 seeds will need a win and a top 5, while the 8-15's must win once, record a second and listen to Rush Limbaugh regularly. And for Padraig and the other 16-30's, he must win a playoff event, register a 2nd and a top 5 that really needs to be a top 3. And the seeds at 31 and over need two wins, a drug-free physical exam and 40 hours of time served at Tour Bible Study.

The excitement is contagious!

Finally, Lawrence Donegan reminds us that while the Open highlighted a great setup on a fantastic course, the old chaps running the show still have a ways to go.

The response of the players to the challenge laid before them was universally positive, as must have been the reaction of the wider public watching at home on television. In stark contrast to this year's Masters and US Open, both of which fell victim to the misplaced belief in some quarters that watching great players struggle to make par is somehow great golf, the 136th Open was a truly uplifting sporting spectacle, with great golfers able to show off their skills.

Fast forward...

Off the course, the tournament was played out against a steady diet of controversy and cock-up. Much was made of a succession of rules problems and, while some of the coverage was overblown, it was notable that the majority of the mistakes were made by "amateur" officials who had been drafted in for the week, rather than by professional referees from the various tours who have both the experience and knowledge to handle the pressure of officiating at major championships.

By far the most insightful contribution on the subject came from the Ryder Cup player Niclas Fasth who, when asked if the game's most high-profile players received favourable treatment from referees, replied: "It happens frequently." This rather gave the lie to that old chestnut about golf being the last sporting bastion of fair play for all.

And thanks to Lawrence for reminding us about the positive test results in France...

Gary Player's intervention on the subject of drug use in the game was also instructive, if only in the sense that it highlighted the continuing failure of the game's governing body to tackle the issue. For years, the R&A has insisted not only that there are no drug users in golf but that drugs would not improve a golfer's game. There is a queue of experienced physicians who would argue otherwise, just as the available evidence, notably in France, where drug testing in golf has been in place for some time and has thrown up several positive results, suggest the problem is real and ongoing.

And on our old chap Graham Brown, who is in day 4 of his race rehab work...

Brown, it was said, was not representing the views of the R&A when he made his ill-judged speech. No doubt this is true. But as the golfing caravan moved on and the gentlemen in blazers returned to their sanctuary in St Andrews, one was left to wonder where on earth he picked up his despicable views or, more to point, where he came to believe that uttering such bile in a public forum was somehow acceptable behaviour.

And I wonder why they can't do anything about the ball!