Cink prevails to win Open as Watson fades in play-off

It was the kind of ending that was heartbreaking for most of fans but one that doesn’t begrudge hard-working Stewart Cink.

A Tom Watson victory would have been a great fairytale. But as these things happen in golf, eight feet of putting length is a long distance between glory and despair.

For Watson, it was eight feet too far. For PGA Tour veteran Cink, it was his chance to snatch the Claret Jug from a 59-year-old who has already held it five times.

Cink made a 12-foot birdie on the final hole of the British Open, leaving Watson needing to sink his eight-foot par attempt for victory. He missed and it went to a four-hole play-off after both players ended on two-under-par 278.

Cink, who closed with 69 in the final round at Turnberry, dominated the play-off, eventually beating Watson by six strokes. If Cink had been a spectator, he would probably have rooted for Watson against himself. AP quoted him as saying:

“It’s been a surreal experience for me. Not only playing one of my favourite courses and a wonderful tournament, but playing against Tom Watson. This stuff doesn’t happen. I grew up watching him on TV, hoping to follow in his footsteps, not playing against him. My hat’s off to him. He turned back the clock. Just did a great job. I speak for all the rest of the people here, too.”

Watson’s defining moment came when he stood over his eight-foot attempt that would have given him victory. But he knew from the moment he hit it that it was not hard enough and he eventually settled for a 72.

Since day one of the tournament, he was in contention and was on the verge of being the oldest major champion ever. But even in defeat, he was gracious and upbeat. He said:

“This ain’t a funeral, you know. It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn’t it? And it was almost. Almost. The dream almost came true. I made a lousy putt (on the 18th). Then in the play-off, it was bad shot after another.

“It was fun to be in the mix again, having kids who are my kids’ age saying, ‘What are you doing out here?’ It was nice showing them you can still play. I’m sure I’ll take some good things from it. But it’s still a disappointment.”

Twenty-two years ago, Watson had his famous “Duel in the Sun” against Jack Nicklaus at this very golf course and then emerged victorious.

It was also a great tournament for England’s Lee Westwood, who finished third on one-under 279 along with Chris Wood.

Westwood had out-played Tiger Woods during the first two rounds as the world number one missed the cut for only the second time as a pro in a major.

Westwood had a final round of 72 while Wood surged up the leaderboard with 67.

Luke Donald, Mathew Goggin and former US Open champion Retief Goosen were tied for fifth on 280 while five golfers finished on joint-eighth 281 – Ernie Els, Thomas Aiken, Soren Hansen, Richard S. Johnson and Justin Leonard.

3 Responses to “Cink prevails to win Open as Watson fades in play-off”

  1. Heather says:

    With all the hype about Tom Watson lets not forget a brave winner in Stewart Cinc he played wonderful golf to win this great championship of ours a very worthy winner

  2. joe aspuria says:

    I was not able to watch the play off. I would have been a geat show to watch. I admire Tom Watson, who at age 59 can still play with much younger golfers.

  3. david h says:

    What a great open. One cant say enough for Tom.

    but having watched tom over the 4 rounds . He was swinging about 7/8th his backswing wasnt reaching the horizontal . However in the play off he was swinging past the horizontal . I feel that this caused him to pull most of his shots .

    Perhaps a pro could comment on this.

    So thanks forever Tom forever. Also thanks Cinks for being so gracious .

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