17th July 2011

Darren Clarke 2011 Open Champion

Congratulations to Pupil Darren Clarke who kept his nerve to clinch his maiden major title with a three-shot victory in the Open at Royal St George's.The 42-year-old Northern Irishman who works with Putting Coach Phil Kenyon fired a final-round 70 to finish five under to hold off Americans Phil Mickelson (68) and Dustin Johnson (72).

Clarke led by one from Johnson going into the last round and he showed complete control of his emotions and his putting stroke on the way to lifting the claret jug. Solid puts on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd settled his nerve while 20 ft eagle putt on the 7th established a platform from which he never really looked back.

Four-time major champion Mickelson had started the day five strokes off the lead and scorched around the front nine in 30, including his own eagle at the long seventh.The 41-year-old left-hander picked up another shot at the 10th to close the gap to one, but his wheels fell off in spectacular fashion as he dropped four shots in six holes to end his chance of a maiden Open title. He did, though, beat his previous best Open finish of third at Royal Troon in 2004.

Johnson, 27, had scrapped hard to get to five under, just two behind playing partner Clarke after 13 holes, but went out of bounds on the long 14th and took a double bogey to hand the Northern Irishman a four-shot lead.

In 4th place was fellow HSPSE pupil Thomas Bjorn. Bjorn, who only got into the event late Monday when Vijay Singh withdrew, gave himself a chance to lay the ghosts of 2003 to rest, where he lost a 3 shot lead on the same venue. Starting 2 behind going into the final round birdies difficult to come by due to the stiff breeze and he couldn't quiet get close enough to Irishman. Clarke was understandably emotional after his win. "It is just incredible. I'm a bit speechless. I played ok today, I did what I had to do and the last few holes when I was far ahead I just tried to be careful and not do anything stupid,"

"I've been very calm all week, I won six weeks ago and the more you put yourself in winning positions the more comfortable you get. I was very comfortable with my game this week. The celebrations could be long and - not arduous - very enjoyable tonight."

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