Now normally I would be contributing a piece about my trading card collection from the late 80s – mid 90s (raised eyebrow-ed.), but today I felt like addressing a weird sports conundrum I faced this weekend-how I do I always get sucked into the vortex of the major golf championship?
Being an avid sports fan I do take note of things going on the world of sports be it trade deadline moves in the four major sports leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) or what my beloved Bruins, Sox, Celtics, and Patriots are up to on a nearly day-to-day basis. This weekend however I found myself caring deeply about who would win The Open at Royal St. George’s in England. It was to the point where on Sunday I was watching from shot to shot to see if Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson would pull off the come from behind victory or choke as they both ended up doing-Johnson in almost Jean Van de Velde like style.
Somehow Mike Turrico and the gang over at the four letter network always find a way to pull you into caring about the players gunning for the championship-in this case the famed Claret Jug. With no Tiger and Phil not always playing up to his talents, The Open was pretty much up from grabs this year.
Day One featured a lot of love for the aging Tom Watson, who has hoisted the Jug five times already. Then of course there was the hope that recent US Open Champ and Northern Ireland native Rory McIllroy would kiss the trophy, but that proved to be a false hope. By the end of the weekend Rory was complaining about the conditions and such.
Day Two is when 40+ year old Darren Clarke began making his push away from the rest of the field as he was one of only a few players capable of playing in the strong wind and hard rain. The 20+ year veteran of the European Tour had never one a major championship but was cited as an influence and role model from two younger Northern Irishmen, McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, who both had one major championships in the past 13 months.
As Day Two turned into Day Three, it was clear Clarke was going to be unstoppable on the famed links course along the coast of England. We (the general public) also began to learn about his long career, the passing of his first wife after a battle with cancer, and how he almost didn’t compete in this year’s Open Championship as he was lined up to provide insight and knowledge for the four letter network.
By Day Four, I was on board the Clarke fan bus. I wanted Mickelson to choke. I wanted Johnson who was playing well on Sunday to make some sort of mistake, which he did by hitting his second shot on #7 out of boards-allowing Clarke to have a comfortable three shot lead from the remainder of the round and finally as he approached the 18th tee box the Claret Jug was his to win. Within a few shots Darren Clarke was 2011’s Open Champion. Sinking a final put and cracking a handsome Irish smile, he achieved what eluded him his entire career.
Two months from now and definitely two years from now I will probably not remember where I was when Clarke won the Open or that Clarke was even the winner. However, I will always remember that 2011 was the year of the Bruins and that on a fall evening in October of 2004 a curse was broken, but for one weekend in the summer of 2011 I was sucked into caring about who would come out victorious at Royal St. George’s and hoist the famed Claret Jug.