Saturday, July 16, 2011
Clarke threatens to add to American drought
By David Bearman
Six players are under par heading into the final round of the 2011 Open Championship, and only one has ever won a major (Lucas Glover, who is four shots back, won the 2009 U.S. Open).
Therefore, the odds favor there being a first-time major winner on Sunday, extending one major streak in the process.
Over the last 11 majors played, there have been 11 different winners. It's the longest stretch since 2002-05, when there were 12 consecutive different major winners (spanning the 2002 Open Championship to the 2005 U.S. Open).
Leader Darren Clarke, who turns 43 next month, would be the first player over 40 to win a major since Vijay Singh at the 2004 PGA Championship. The last player over the age of 40 to win his first major was Mark O’Meara, who was 41 when he won the 1998 Masters.
Clarke's best finish at a major was at the 1997 Open Championship when he finished tied for second.
If he wins on Sunday, Clarke would be the first player from Northern Ireland to win the Open since Fred Daly in 1947.
Teeing off in the final pairing with Clarke is American Dustin Johnson, the third time in the last six majors that he’s been in the final pairing. Last year, Johnson led the U.S. Open by three shots but finished tied for eighth following a final round 82. At last year’s PGA Championship, he finished tied for fifth after a two-stroke penalty on 18 cost him a shot in a playoff.
One stroke off the lead, Johnson is the top hope for an American contingent that's looking to end a drought in majors. For the first time in Major Championship Golf history, five consecutive majors have been won by Non-Americans.
In addition to Johnson, Rickie Fowler (T-3rd), Glover (T-5th), Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Anthony Kim are all within five strokes of the leader.