Stewart Cink won the 138th Open Championship at Turnberry after a one-sided play-off against Tom Watson.
Watson, who was aiming to become the oldest winner in Open history at 59 – some 13 years older than Old Tom Morris who won at Prestwick in 1867 – had earlier missed a ten-footer on the 72nd hole for the championship. It would have been a record-equalling sixth win, matching the record held by Harry Vardon and would surely have gone down as one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time
But it wasn’t to be, with the popular American dragging his putt to the right of the hole on the same green where he had beaten Jack Nicklaus in the infamous ‘Duel in the Sun’ some 32 years ago.
Cink and Watson both posted scores of two-under-par (278), and after his missed opportunity, the latter looked drained in the four-hole play-off. A bogey on the first extra hole was followed by a tired-looking tee shot on the par-3 6th, and although he made a gusty up-and-down, another bogey on the par-5 17th, where Cink would birdie, meant it was all over bar the shouting coming down the 18th.
For Cink, it was an impressive display of precision hitting from the fairway, and he wrapped up his victory in style with a fine birdie on the last.
“It’s been a surreal experience for me,” said Cink. “Not only playing one of my favourite courses in such a wonderful tournament but playing against Tom Watson. I grew up watching Tom Watson play on TV and hoping one day maybe I could follow in his footsteps at the Open Championship. I just feel so happy to be part of it.”
Lee Westwood, who at one point led by two shots nearing the turn, fell away with bogeys at 15 and 16. A birdie on the 17th put him back in contention and when he fired to the green at the last from a fairway trap, a maiden Major win looked on the cards.
However, the Worksop man rolled his birdie effort some six feet past, and then missed the return for par that would have been enough to see him join Cink and Watson in the play-off.
Another Englishman who will be ruing his luck is Ross Fisher, who birdied the opening two holes of his final round to move into a two-shot lead. After bogeying the 4th hole, disaster struck at the 5th when he fired right off the tee into the deep rough.
From the heaviest of lies he could barely move his ball and when he hooked his third shot left across the fairway into more trouble, he would have been happy to walk away with a double bogey.
But still the agony continued. A one-shot penalty for an unplayable lie meant he was still short of the green in five. A chip and a two-putt resulted in a quadruple and from there he never recovered. Despite creating chances on the back nine, he finished four shots off the pace on two-over-par.