Cink pips veteran Watson to Open Championship in playoff

Published 19/07/2009 18:43:41

Stewart Cink won the 138th Open Championship at Turnberry in dramatic circumstances. After four days play, Americans Tom Watson and Stewart Cink couldn't be separated and took each other on in a 4-hole playoff. Cink is 23 years his junior and it showed as Watson struggled to keep his game together and eventually lost by six shots.


"Playing against Tom Watson, this just doesn't happen this stuff. I grew up hoping i could one day follow in his footsteps" said champion Cink.

"I just feel so happy to be a part of it,

"It'll be the most crucial putt that I've ever struck in my life It's just such a sweet feeling - it's almost indescribable."


The news all week had been if 59-year old Tom Watson could win an incredible sixth Claret Jug and join Harry Vardon as the most successful links player of all time. Watson could have put the championship to bed if he had made par on the 18th but he took a 5 despite a relatively easy eight-footer to finish. The eight-time major winner had looked undaunted by the additional pressure until the final hole.


36-year old Cink's previous best performance was sixth at The Open in 2007 and this is his first major and 13th win as a professional. He joins the list of unlikely winners of the Claret Jug including names like Lawrie, Hamilton and Curtis.


Cink was an unpopular winner, not for any fault of his own but simply because of the fairytale a Watson victory promised. Expectations were high after Greg Norman's heroics in last year's Open - he was a mere youngster at 53.


"It's not the first time I've been the under-the-radar guy." Cink added.


Playoff as it happened


5th: Cink makes par with an excellent bunker recovery. Watson can't take advantage of a better position and takes 5. Watson looks nervous, the mental flow is all with the younger of the two right now. Cink one up.

6th: Cink safely on the green with his tee shot, Watson pulls it right into the spectator area but recovers well for an excellent up and down 3. No nerves shown there. Cink matches his three. Cink one up.

17th: Cink plays a good drive, Watson in the heavy and hairy stuff. Hate to say it but he's showing his age here. Takes two to get out and it's basically lights out. Cink makes birdie, Watson double-bogey. Cink four up.

18th: Watson's game has fallen to pieces and Cink has been faultless. He hits it into the crowd and eventually recovers for a bogey, Cink birdies. Cink wins by 6.


Other finishers


Further down the leaderboard were two Englishmen - Lee Westwood and Chris Wood both finished a shot further back on one-under for the championship. It was paticularly galling for Westwood - still chasing his first major - having three-putted on 18 and effectively played himself out of a share of the lead. Wood carded a hugely impressive 67 to storm up the leaderboard, just running out of steam at the end.


"I thought I'd made an eagle at 17, thought I'd made a putt at 16 and thought I'd hit a good shot at 15 but just went into that trap." Westwood told BBC Sport . "I am feeling fairly low now having three-putted the last but 18 is not an easy hole. You can make bogey there but if you hit the fairway you can make birdie. I figured I would need to make birdie to tie Tom. It is fantastic to be in the thick of it and it is right where you want to be."


In a three-way tie for fifth was Luke Donald of England, South African Retief Goosen and unheralded Australian Matt Goggin. Donald finished with a hugely impressive 67 whilst Goggin started leading but carded a disappointing 73.


Somewhat more disappointing was the performance of much-fanced Englishman Ross Fisher. Fisher took an 8 on the fifth which he could never recover from. He finished on 2 over for the championship, in a tie for 13th place.


Italian Matteo Manassero won the silver medal for leading amateur and finished in a brilliant 13th place. Big things must surely be expected of the 16-year old phenom.


"It was fun watching you all week Tom" said Cink. And that's the truth.


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1.  So gutted for Old Tom - still probably the best links player of all time.

comment by zaibato - 20/07/2009 13:22

2.  Is Cink the most unpopular winner ever? With the greatest respect, I don't think anyone wanted him to win

comment by Kitchen Cink - 20/07/2009 13:33

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