Failing to sink the clincher, Watson goes into play-off with Cink

By V. Krishnaswamy, IANS
Sunday, July 19, 2009

TURNBERRY - Tom Watson added one more act to the already emotion-draining drama at the Turnberry Golf Resort when he missed an eight-foot par putt to send the 138th Open Championships into a four-hole play-off with Stewart Cink of United States.

The front-runner for last three days, the 59-year-old Watson, and the outsider, 36-year-old Cink, were tied at two-under 208 after 72 holes. They went into a play-off to be played over four holes.

It was yesterday once more, as Tom Watson strode like a colossus on the final green in an attempt to both re-live and re-write history at the 138th British Open at Turnberry. His fans and rivals at the Ailsa Craig Course’s 18th green, which in the time to come, could well be re-christened the “Tom Watson Amphitheatre”, applauded as one, as he came to the final stanza of this beautiful symphony holding a one-shot lead.

Ready to birdie from the apron of green, all he needed was a par to win a sixth Claret Jug and etch his name in a bunch of history books. He left himself eight feet short, and then after holing all those 60 and 30-footer over the past 71 holes, he missed the crucial short one. He tapped in for a par, and added another act to the already emotion-draining drama, that this Open Championships had become.

Watson, starting the day at four-under and with a lead of one, finished the final round with a round of 72. Cink, who had opened the tournament with a 66, went out three groups ahead of the leader, and starting the day at one-under 209, shot a 69 to come to two-under 268.

Cink, who has never won a Major - Watson has eight, five of which are Opens - had half an hour earlier sunk a 12-footer for a birdie on the 72nd to get to two-under and end the clubhouse leader, Chris Wood’s hopes. Wood, the low amateur, 12 months ago at Birkdale, had played an electric three-under 67 to jump from two-over overnight to one-under.

A group ahead of Watson, Lee Westwood, kept flirting with the lead after his birdie-eagle sequence on sixth and seventh. But then three bogeys on 16, 17th and 18th, put paid to his hopes of becoming the first British winner, since Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie in 1999.

So, Woods and Westwood stayed tied at third, while Watson and Cink went into the play-off.

Earlier in the day Luke Donald (67), Retief Goosen (72) and Matthew Goggin (73) kept battling Watson and then faded at various stages to finish at even par for the tournament and in tied fifth place.

Ernie Els, the 2002 Open champion, showed glimpses of his old form, but starting from three-over and seven off the lead, he had left himself too much to do. He shot a 68 and ended one-over and in tied eighth with Soren Hansen (67), Justin Leonard (68), Thomas Aiken (69) and Richard Johnson (70).

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