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cancellation of the championship from 1940 until 1946, the year Sam Snead won at the Old Course at St. Andrews. When he first saw the course, he memorably said he thought it was “an old farm that had gone to seed” and asked where the trees were. The locals came to love “The Slammer” anyway. Ben Hogan’s win in his only appearance in the championship—1953 at Carnoustie—was one for the history books because he had won the Masters and U.S. Open earlier that year. But with the exception of Hogan’s victory, the Open was dominated by South Africa’s Bobby Locke, Australia’s Peter Thomson (five victories) and the legendary South African, Gary Player. But led by Arnold Palmer, the Americans


would return to dominate in the 1960s. Palmer finished second in 1960 at St. Andrews and then won in 1961 and ‘62. His enormous popularity—plus the advent of telecasts of the Open—helped restore the championship’s rightful prestige. At the time, most top American professionals skipped the Open because of the hassles of travel but Palmer changed all that by the sheer force of his personality and popularity. He loved the Open and the locals loved him. Americans, led by Jack Nicklaus (three wins), Lee


Trevino (back-to-back wins in 1971 and 1972) and Tom Watson (five victories), continued to dominate into the early 1980s. At that point, international players, doubtlessly inspired by the example set by South Africa’s Player, asserted themselves.


THE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS EMERGE Led by Spain’s Seve Ballesteros (three victories from 1979 to 1988) and England’s Nick Faldo


PLAYER


FINAL STANDINGS POS


1


Darren Clarke Phil Mickelson Dustin Johnson Thomas Bjorn Chad Campbell Anthony Kim Rickie Fowler


Raphael Jacquelin Sergio Garcia Simon Dyson Davis Love III


www.pgatour.com 1


T2 T2 4


T5 T5 T5 8


T9 T9 T9


68 70 70 65 69 69 72 74 70 68 70


68 69 68 72 68 68 68 67 70 72 68


(three wins from 1987 to 1992), the Open was won by Scotland’s Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie; Australia’s Greg Norman (twice) and Ian Baker- Finch; Zimbabwe’s Nick Price; South Africa’s Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen and Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington (twice). Of course, Americans won their fair share (Tiger Woods won three times), but the Open had once again lived up to its reputation as the world championship of golf.


“In terms of what’s going through my heart, there’s obviously somebody who is watching down from up above there, and I know she’d be very proud of me. She’d probably be saying, ‘I told


you so.’” – Darren Clarke speaking about his late wife


REMEMBER THIS? What is it about Northern Ireland? First Graeme McDowell wins the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, then Rory McIlroy demolishes the field at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and then Darren Clarke follows his fellow countrymen’s example by winning the Claret Jug in a hugely popular victory at Royal St. George’s. It had been 63 years since a Northern Ireland


resident had won a major championship— Fred Daly in The Open Championship in 1947 at Hoylake. It had been a decade since Clarke had been a factor in a major championship—


years where he struggled to overcome his wife Heather’s illness and death from cancer. He had fallen out of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. And yet somehow there he was on Sunday, holding off challenges from Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in difficult weather conditions to win The Open Championship.


AN EMOTIONAL WIN FOR CLARKE “It feels pretty amazing right now,” said Clarke, 42. “It’s been a dream since I’ve been a kid to win the Open, like any kid’s dream is, and I’m able to do it, which just feels incredible.” The key for Clarke may well have been the


20-foot eagle putt he made on the seventh hole that gave him the lead for good, and he didn’t drop a shot until it no longer mattered. Despite meaningless bogeys on the final two holes, Clarke closed with an even-par 70 for a three-shot victory over the two Americans. So how to explain the emergence of


Northern Ireland’s Big Three? “We’re blessed to have two fantastic players


in Rory and ‘GMac,’ and I’ve just come along, the only guy coming along behind them,” said Clarke. “We have fantastic golf courses, we have fantastic facilities, but to have three major champions from a little, small place in a short period of time, it’s just incredible.” In the end, McIlroy couldn’t contain himself.


“Northern Ireland. The golf capital of the world!!” McIlroy tweeted his followers. ■


Charity Link Each year, The R&A distributes roughly five million


ROUNDS 2


3


69 71 68 71 74 74 70 71 74 72 72


4


70 68 72 71 69 69 70 69 68 70 72


TOTAL SCORE


275 278 278 279 280 280 280 281 282 282 282


OFFICIAL MONEY $1,452,078


$689,737 $689,737 $419,489 $293,105 $293,105 $293,105 $209,745 $168,333 $168,333 $168,333


FEDEXCUP POINTS


-


270 270 -


110 110 110 - -


82 82


pounds to deserving causes from grassroots initiatives, through coaching and regional championships, and to professional tours all over the world. In addition, it provides advice on sustainable golf course management, along with the distribution of new green-keeping equipment to golf courses in developing golfing nations. In recent years, efforts have been focused on financing golf development in countries where the game is a relatively new sport, while assisting local projects like the Paul Lawrie Foundation in Aberdeen, Scotland.


ESPN


Ticket Information www.theopen.com


PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2012 151


© GETTY IMAGES/DARREN CARROLL/ DAVID CANNON


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