Darren Clarke won the 2011 British Open Championship on Sunday at Royal St George’s in England. Here in the USA we still call it the British Open whereas, the rest of the world calls it the Open Championship. Clarke outlasted long hitting Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. I know many of the pundits were surprised to see Clarke finally win a major championship. I am not considering his track record and career success. Admittedly, he said the links style golf at the British Open obviously favored his game. After all, Clarke grew up playing links golf in Ireland where he once again resides. Another factor to consider in the win is that Clarke is very good in match play situations. If you recall he beat Tiger Woods in the Match Play Championship in 2000 at La Costa in San Diego. As we are all reminded that was Tigers great year when he won just about everything including the US Open by twelve shots. Sundays final round was similar to a match play event. Given the weather and difficulty of the golf course Clarke did not need to shoot a crazy low number to win. He simply needed to keep pace with the field and let them make mistakes. Since they were chasing him they needed to play more aggressively and take risks. That was a difficult golf course to have to play aggressively.
Another amazing fact to me is how many wins the Irish have had in the past few years. Padraig Harrington got it all started a few years ago with his Open Championship win. It was most recently followed up by other major wins from McDowell, McIlroy and now Clarke. It is incredible how such a little country has produced so many major winners in such a short span of time. As I discussed in my last post “who is the best young, American golfer” it is not surprising to see another major won by a non American. However, it was great to see Fowler, Kim and Johnson make a charge especially given the weather conditions. They could have very easily have mailed it in and moved on to the next event but they didn’t. They hung in there and fought hard to win as did Phil the Thrill.
Darren Clarke comes across as a regular guy. Over the weekend in one of his interviews he made the comment that he was a regular guy who liked to share a pint. I have no doubt he will be a popular champion and I am hoping the win will propel him to play more events in the US. You have to pull for a guy who always seems happy and has a smile on his face. It was Clarkes time to win the Open Championship and it is well deserved. He now holds the record for the most appearances before a win (twenty). The record was previously held by Nick Price who played the event fifteen times before winning.
Do you think Clarke will win another major or is this it for him?