Remembering the 2007 Open Championship
WHEN The Open Championship was last played at Carnoustie it ended in dramatic circumstances, with Sergio Garcia throwing away a wonderful opportunity to win his first major. He would have to wait 10 years before finally breaking his duck.
After his emergence as a 19-year-old at the US PGA Championship in 1999, when he hit that stunning shot from the base of a tree and gave Tiger Woods the fright of his life, the Spaniard was expected to go on and win several majors. Who would ever have thought it would take him so long?
He later admitted that he was deeply scarred by what unfolded on the final day at Carnoustie in 2007, when he threw away the lead and ultimately lost to Padraig Harrington in a playoff - it was the first of three majors Harrington would win in little more than 13 months. He added the 2008 Open and the US PGA Championship, when he once again got the better of Garcia.
A field of 156 players participated in the championship for a total purse of £4.2m, with the winner receiving £750,000. It was the seventh time that Carnoustie had staged The Open. It was won there by Tommy Armour (1931), Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975) and, unforgettably, by Paul Lawrie in 1999 when Jean Van de Velde suffered his meltdown on the 72nd hole.
Garcia led the field after the opening day with a six-under 65. Eight years earlier, he shot 89 in the opening round at Carnoustie and missed the cut by 18 strokes. A promising young amateur called Rory McIlroy had the only bogey-free round on the day as he shot a 68. Tiger Woods, going his third straight Open, had a 69 that included an eagle at the sixth. The scoring average was 73.72.
Garcia added a 71 to finish the second round on six under par, and led the field by two. McIlroy shot a 76 (+5) to drop to +2, tied for 31st going into the weekend. Paul McGinley's 75 (+4) dropped him to even par after starting the day in second place. Woods had a disappointing 74 (+3) which started with a double bogey on the first hole. Mike Weir shot the best round of the day with a 68 (−3), which moved him into a tie for third place.
The 36-hole cut fluctuated until it settled at four over par, and the scoring average for the second round was 74.10 (+3.10).
The Spaniard continued his excellent form on day three. He moved to nine under par after a 68 and led the field by three. McGinley bounced back with a 68 and was three under for the week, tied for third place with six other players. Woods shot a 69 but he went into the final round trailing Garcia by eight.
The best round of the day came from Steve Stricker, whose 64 was the best score ever seen at Carnoustie. Stricker, an American famous for his silky putting stroke, birdied five of the first seven holes en route to a bogey-free round with seven birdies and climbed the leaderboard into solo second place, three strokes behind García. Chris DiMarco was among the group tied for third place.
Garcia had yet to win a major championship, and for the first time in his career, led a major after 54 holes. The scoring average on a benign day was 71.61 (+0.61).
The final round saw wildly fluctuating performances and as the tournament reached its conclusion, Garcia, Harrington and Romero emerged as the leading contenders.
Garcia was eight under par as he headed for the final couple of holes. Up ahead, Harrington had four birdies and an eagle at the 14th hole to move to 9-under for the championship, and, improbably, stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead. Harrington went into the Barry Burn twice, but salvaged a double-bogey six to finish with a round of 67 (−4), seven-under for the tournament.
It seemed that he had thrown away his chance of victory, but there was plenty of drama still to unfold. Garcia, who now had a one-shot lead on the final hole, found a greenside bunker with his approach shot. He left himself a ten footer for par but it lipped out and he finished level with Harrington.
Romero was nine under after 70 holes with a two-stroke lead, but the Argentine finished double bogey-bogey to miss out on the playoff by a shot.
Harrington went on to become the first irishman to win The Open in 60 years when he defeat Garcia in the four-hole playoff, completed over the first, 16th, 17th and 18th holes. Harrington birdied the par-4 first hole while García bogeyed, a two-stroke edge. Both players parred the next two holes (Garcia hit the pin on the par-3 16th but his ball rolled a distance away), so Harrington still led by two strokes heading to the 18th, where he had earlier finished with a double-bogey.
Harrington played the hole more cautiously this time, and reached the green in three shots. García gave himself a chance by reaching the green in two, but his birdie putt slid by and Harrington holed his short bogey putt putt to become the first European winner of a major since Lawrie’s victory on the same course in 1999.
McIlroy finished in a tie for 42nd place and won the silver medal as the top amateur. The scoring average on the day was 72.79 (+1.79).
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