Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harrington wins British Open

For three rounds, it appeared that this would finally be the tournament where Sergio Garcia got the "major monkey" off his back. After the third hole of the final round of the 2007 British Open Championship, Garcia had a four stroke lead over his nearest competitor. Things quickly changed though as Garcia went through a four hole stretch (from 5 thru 8) where he bogeyed three times, dropping him to seven under par, and paring his lead to a single stroke.

The final nine holes of the tournament looked like they had to have been scripted from a movie - they had to be seen to be believed! Padrig Harrington began the day six strokes back of Garcia at three under par. Birdies at the the third, sixth and ninth holes got him to within a stroke of the lead. Harrington then birdied the 11th to draw into a tie for the lead.

While Harrington and Garcia seemingly were the only ones seriously contending for the Open Championship, an unknown named Andres Romero had what has to be one of the most incredible, tumultuous rounds in golf history... Romero, who started the day seven strokes back of Sergio, parred his first two holes of the day. Over his next 16 holes, he would only par TWO MORE TIMES - the last of them coming on the 7th hole! Birdies on the fourth, sixth and eighth got him within striking distance of the leaders. A bogey on the ninth temporarily set him back as he birdied 10 and 11 to get into a three-way tie for the lead with Garcia and Harrington. A double bogey at 12 seemingly ended Romero's chances, but then an incredible run of four more consecutive birdies from 13 through 16 got him to nine under par and a two stroke lead over the suddenly chasing Sergio and Harrington.

Just as quickly as Romero seemed to take control of the tournament, he lost it. Harrington would eagle the 14th hole to move back into a tie for the lead. Romero then double bogeyed the 17th hole to fall two back. Garcia suddenly refound his game, with birdies on 13 and 14 to get him to nine under and back into a tie for the lead. Romero would bogey the 18th hole to finish at six under par. Garcia then gave a stroke back at the 15th to slip to eight under par and one behind Harrington. Harrington played stready golf from 15 through 17, making three straight pars. Then came the 18th and disaster! Not one, but two shots of his found the water. Just to salvage a double bogey, he needed to hit his 4th shot close to the pin. He did precisely that and sank the four foot putt to come away with a double bogey. His one stroke lead was now a one stroke deficit as Garcia reassumed the lead at eight under par.

All Garcia needed to do to win was par the 18th hole; a task much easier said than done. The hole was the most difficult one on the course the entire week, playing to more than half a stroke over par... Garcia's tee shot found the fairway, and then after a VERY long wait, his approach shot found the left side bunker. Garcia pitched out to within about seven feet for his par. His par putt was well struck and it appeared to be going into the hole, but it heartbreakingly took a dip into the left side of the hole and then out! The four hole playoff was then on.

The tournament was all but decided on the first playoff hole. Garcia bogeyed and Harrington birdied to take a two stroke lead. Both players parred thenext two holes. Garcia would par the 18th and final hole as well - something he only wished he could have done an hour or so earlier. Harrington would once again find trouble again on 18, needing a 3 1/2 foot putt for a bogey and to close out his first major win. Harrington stroked the putt firmly and it found the center of the cup... the incredible day had finally ended. For Harrington, it was his much anticipated first major win. For Garcia, it was just another close call in a major. This time though, you have to give him A LOT of credit. The old Sergio Garcia would have folded it in after that rough start. This one persevered and came thisclose to winning the tournament. Although he didn't win, Garcia made a whole new legion of fans on Sunday.


*** Edit *** Well, I had an unexpected complication waiting for me when I arrived home last night - my computer monitor died!!! Fortunately I was able to salvage one from a previous computer and now I'm back up and running. Although this monitor isn't nearly as good as the one that went out, it will suffice for now... ***

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