July 17, 2011
This British Open had just about everything you'd want in a championship, and the winner was as deserving as they get. He was a winner, but who else joined him, and who did we toss in the loser's bracket?
Darren Clarke -- The champion will forever make this list, but I wish I could put a little star next to his name because it was a real joy to watch him claim his first major championship. Clarke is one of the good guys, and his ball-striking this week was probably the best we've seen on tour since Louis Oosthuizen a year ago at this same event.
Phil Mickelson -- Say what you want about the way he played the back nine on Sunday, but Lefty was incredible for 63 holes at this championship, and put himself in a position to shock the world with an Open win. His front nine reminded me of Tiger Woods at the Masters this year, all the way down to the fist pump after the eagle dropped, but like Tiger, he couldn't keep it going. Still, the best finish for Lefty at this tournament, and a reminder that talent can play in all conditions.
Thomas Bjorn -- Imagine if Jean Van de Velde returned to Carnoustie, and played well enough to give himself a shot at the Claret Jug, even leading at one point? It would be an incredible story, right? That's Bjorn at Royal St. George's, and hopefully his fourth-place finish will take the place of that tough loss eight years ago on this same track.
Rickie Fowler -- The boy wonder from the states still hasn't won a PGA Tour event, but his play at the Open showed he's just about ready to end that. It was his best finish in a major to date, and if his putter had heated up, Fowler might have been close enough to give Clarke a scare on Sunday.
Tom Lewis -- The story for the first two days, Lewis showed once again that there is miles of talent coming out of Europe that most of us have never heard of. A 20-year-old amateur, Lewis plans to turn pro after this year's Walker Cup. After Royal St. George's, you can understand why.
Dustin Johnson -- You have to say this about Johnson: The guy sure can put himself in the conversation in a bunch of majors. Problem is, he still can't close, and this is the third time he's been in the final group on Sunday in a major and the third time he's made a double-bogey or worse on the scorecard. His lay-up shot that went out of bounds is inexcusable for someone with that much talent, and I'm sure will be a shot he's thinking about for a long time.
Bubba Watson -- Yes, he finished tied for 30th, and yes, it was the first time Bubba made the cut in the Open, but his body language all week wasn't exactly what he needed to win over the fans he lost with his performance at the French Open. I like Bubba, but his attitude on the course could use a makeover.
Martin Kaymer -- It's strange to think that before Saturday's round, Kaymer was the odds-on favorite to take home his second major championship. Weekend rounds of 73-73 doomed him, and the PGA Championship winner still can't find the magic he had last year at Whistling Straits.
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood -- Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, and they both missed the cut? Donald makes four bogeys over his last four holes to miss by two? That's not exactly saying a lot for the world rankings, and shows that no matter how good they are for 48 weeks out of the year, when the majors roll around, you can count these guys out.
Tiger Woods -- Sure, it's strange to think a guy that didn't play made the list, but this week showed that golf doesn't really need Tiger as much as we initially thought. There were so many great stories and such drama on Sunday, and nobody was sitting there thinking how much better this would be with Tiger around. We'd love a Woods return, but we sure don't need it as much as we thought.