Darren Clarke Wins British Open

Darren-ClarkeDarren Clarke closed out with an even-par 70 despite taking bogeys in the last two holes to win the 2011 British Open for his first-ever Major title and cement Northern Ireland’s reputation as a legitimate producer of golf champions.

Clarke eagled the par-5 seventh hole at Royal St. George to keep his distance from the rest of the field early in the final round, then watched as the other contenders crumbled in the end. The 42-year-old Irishman eventually finished with a 5-under 275 after a superb performance all week. Clarke was the only player to have at least a par in all four rounds after rounds of 68, 68, 69, and 70.

American Dustin Johnson threw away a chance for a playoff by going 3-over in the final five holes for a final-round 72 that left him three shots off Clarke. Phil Mickelson made a surge by going 6-under in the first 10 holes, but lost steam going home with four bogeys in the final eight holes for a closing 68. He ended up tied for second with Johnson.

Clarke’s victory, which came in his 20th year as a professional, was the second-straight Major to be won by a player from Northern Ireland following Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open win last month.