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British Open produces a multitude of major surprises

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If someone would have told you at the beginning of the Open Championship that Luke Donald and Lee Westwood would miss the cut; an amateur would be leading after the opening round; Phil Mickelson would be in contention on Sunday; and Ulsterman not not named McIlroy or McDowell would hoist the Claret Jug, you would have suggested that person seek help at the nearest psych ward.

Simply put, this year's British Open was special. It had it all, with a crowded leaderboard on Sunday and a multitude of twists, turns and shockers that had golf fans on the edge of their seats.

But who were the biggest shocks? Here's our list:

Darren Clarke: What more can you say about the guy? He came into the week with exceptionally long odds and found a way to battle the elements and walk away with the Claret Jug. Even more surprising for Clarke was that his last top 15 finish in a major came six years ago at the Open Championship. Nobody had this guy on their radar at the beginning of the week, and yet there he was on Sunday evening, kissing the trophy and grinning from ear to ear. It was an incredible week for one of the nicest guys in the sport.

Phil Mickelson: Phil Mickelson's resume at the British Open made you believe he wouldn't be a factor. But when Lefty showed up at Sandwich, he said he was teeing it up with a new perspective. It certainly showed, as he posted a T-2 for his best Open showing of his career. Had it not been for a couple of missed putts on the back nine on Sunday, we most likely would be talking about him being the Open champion.

Thomas Bjorn: Bjorn wasn't even supposed to be in the field, but a late WD from Vijay Singh got him in at the last second. That gave him a shot to wipe away the pain of his 2003 Open collapse at St. George, and for a couple of rounds, it looked like he might do it. But a pair of 71's over the weekend left Bjorn in fourth place for the week. Even still, it was a memorable week for the Dane.

Tom Lewis: Local knowledge always helps when playing in a major championship. Even if you happen to be a 20-year-old amateur playing in his first Open. Tom Lewis used his win at the 2009 British Boys' title, at Royal St. George's, to post the lowest round by an amateur in major championship history on Thursday, and turned the tournament on its head for a day. Though he stumbled over the final three rounds, it's safe to say his T-30 finish made his namesake, Tom Watson, proud.

Anthony Kim: Remember this guy? He was considered one of golf's up and coming players a year ago, until a thumb injury forced him to miss a majority of the 2010 season. When he returned, his game was in shambles. That's why it was so nice to see him in contention at a major, as he posted a T-5 finish to cap a great tournament.

Lee Westwood and Luke Donald: The top two players in the golf didn't make the cut at the Open. That's shocking.

Rory McIlroy: McIlroy may have been the favorite to win the Open, but he sure didn't play like a contender when it counted. Rounds of 73 and 74 for on the weekend submarined his chances of taking home the Claret Jug. Needless to say, it wasn't the performance you expected from him after his memorable U.S. Open victory.

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