Sunday, July 17, 2011
Darren Clarke Wins a Deserving Open Championship
There are not many times that a sporting event can fulfill all of our wants and needs. Most of the time we're left wanting more, or wishing for a different outcome. I remember a year ago writing about the British Open that Louis Oosthuzien won and thinking just how I was going to make that interesting.
This one was different. Darren Clarke, a man just about every sports fan respects and admires, got himself into contention for this Open championship on Friday with a second round 68, and maintained it throughout the weekend, putting together a ball-striking clinic at Royal St. George's while rain and wind seemed to knock everyone else out of the way.
It's really tough to write about a guy like Clarke without thinking about all the personal stuff he's battled. Sure, we all go through things from time to time, but this was a public moment we watched when he teed it up at the K Club after his wife passed away from breast cancer, and for a guy that seems to always smile and enjoy life, you can't help but stand and applaud his incredible effort these four days in Sandwich.
Clarke doesn't play the prettiest golf. He isn't the best driver of the ball or an incredible iron-player. He's just a golfer that gets it done. One day he putted fantastically. The next he couldn't miss a green. Finally, he seemed to get the luck of the Irish, even if golf's recent luck was Northern Irish.
I loved watching this British Open, and Clarke was one of the main reasons. I've never met the guy in my life, and probably won't, but I feel like we have a lot in common for some reason. He seems like a guy I'd enjoy, and it's hard not to root for those type of people.
I think these types of wins really show why golf is so special. We all loved Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald before the week began. We rooted for Dustin Johnson and cheered for the Phil Mickelson rush on the front nine. It makes the game interesting.
But deep down, we all wanted Darren to win. It was a story like Tom Watson two years ago, except this time, Clarke gave himself the cushion he needed to bogey the last.
I must say, seeing him accept the Claret Jug was the highlight of 2011 for me. I hope it was the same for you.
More to come on this week tomorrow ...