1. Padraig Harrington. Raise a pint of Guinness to one of the nicest guys in golf and a thoroughly deserving winner, given how he bounced back from disaster on the 72nd hole to play lights-out golf in overtime. The best thing about Harrington’s breakthrough? Not having to read any more of those lame stories speculating why Euros can’t win a major.
2. Andres Romero. Yes, the young Argentine felt the pressure on the last few holes, but he lit up the Open with one of the wildest rounds in recent memory — no pars on the back nine and a total of ten birdies. And he got a much worse break on 17 than anything that happened to Sergio Garcia, but Romero handled it with grace and humor.
3. Hunter Mahan. The young American continued his breakout summer with a macho 69-65 weekend to tie for sixth in only his third Open Championship. Take note, Capt. Nicklaus: Mahan has now shot up to 16th in the Presidents Cup standings, and he’s exactly the kind of guy you want on the squad.
4. Carnoustie. It’s a brute from start to finish, but the murderous 18th hole has become the most dramatic stage in golf. It was nice to see the ancient links shine after the well-chronicled disaster of ’99.
5. Joe Ogilvie. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, the affable Tour veteran got his first victory thanks to some stellar Sunday shotmaking, including a hole-out for eagle from 119 yards on the 16th hole. That’s great golf, even with all the grownups in Carnoustie.
1. Sergio Garcia. It was bad enough he choked away a tournament at which only one player was within six shots of his lead at the start of Sunday, but his petulance afterward was truly obnoxious. “I should write a book on how not to miss a shot in the playoff and shoot one over,” he whined. Typical of a guy always looking for excuses, Garcia is conveniently forgetting the sad little approach he dumped into a bunker on the short-side on the first extra hole, leading to the bogey that more or less sealed his fate.
2. Ernie Els. Another big one that got away for the beleaguered Easy. He played brilliantly on Saturday but for his usual costly blunder, in this case a triple bogey on the (relatively) easy par-5 6th. On Sunday he was at the top of the leaderboard until fatal bogeys on 13 and 15.
3. ABC. Sure, it was nice to once again have the camaraderie of Tirico, Faldo and Zing in the booth, but was it just me or did it seem like the Sunday telecast featured more commercials than golf shots?
4. Steve Stricker. He put a charge into the Open on Saturday with a 64 to vault into second place but came back to reality during an ugly final round, shooting a 74 that was the worst score by anyone in the top-20. Nice guys always finish T8.
5. Bunker rakers. Specifically, the guy who held up Garcia mid-fairway on the 72nd hole. You’re not a monk tending to your Zen garden, pal — do your job and get the hell out of the way!