Despite the unpredictable weather and hassle of international travel and finding unconventional accommodations, I’ve quickly grown to love the British Open. In fact, it’s my favorite week of the year (maybe with the exception of Hawaii). It’s not the easiest to cover, but it’s the experience that makes it so special. There’s the history and tradition, along with the intrigue of links golf. Oh, and I can’t forget Pimm’s!
Dustin Johnson was in striking distance once again in the final round of a major championship. Playing in the last group at the British Open with eventual champion Darren Clarke, Johnson survived the daunting tee shot on the par-5 14th and safely reached the fairway. When he pulled his two-iron from the bag, he was two strokes off the lead. It was critical for Johnson to give himself an opportunity for birdie or possibly eagle.
Rory McIlroy didn’t have his best at Royal St. George’s. He struggled a bit in the bad weather over the weekend. While he wasn’t out of the hunt completely going into Sunday, he wasn’t in striking position. It simply wasn’t Rory’s week. He finished in a ho-hum tie for 25th. Which in the grand scheme of things really isn’t so terrible.
Earlier this morning I was nearly blown over walking from the parking lot to the media center at Royal St. George’s. It was gusting. And if it’s that windy inland, then it’s even gustier on the course, especially near the 6th tee, 7th hole and 13-15. The pins are bending like contortionists and conditions are supposed to worsen around the time the last group, Darren Clarke and Dustin Johnson, tee off. Yippee, right? Players on the course needed to take advantage of the last hour or two.
Quote of the day comes from Paul Lawrie, who teed off early on Saturday and bore the brunt of the terrible conditions: “I said to the crowd at the 15th, there was about 40 or 50 walking around, ‘You’re just mental. Just mental.’ I just don’t understand that at all. I’m getting paid. I’ve got to be there, but it’s part of the game.”
What a rollercoaster of a day! Which has set up for what should be a thrilling finish tomorrow. Darren Clarke leads by one shot over Dustin Johnson, who last played in the final group at the ’10 PGA Championship — the infamous bunker-not-a-bunker incident.
As expected, high winds and heavy rain have battered Royal St. George’s, along with fans, players and the several members of the media. Not surprisingly, the few players who have finished shot over par.
Gary Woodland was off to a fantastic start, but conditions worsened as his round progressed. Woodland was playing some mighty impressive golf until he reached the 14th, where the cross wind was so strong that he aimed roughly 50 yards left of the fairway, but a bad swing put him out of bounds.