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Cink dashes Watson's Open dreams

FINAL ROUND LEADERBOARD (GB & Ire unless stated):
-2 S Cink*, T Watson * Cink won in a four-hole play-off
-1 L Westwood, C Wood level R Goosen (SA), M Goggin (Aus), L Donald

Stewart Cink

Highlights - Cink triumphs in Open play-off

By Mark Orlovac
BBC Sport at Turnberry

American Stewart Cink claimed his first major title as he defeated five-time winner Tom Watson in a four-hole play-off for the 138th Open at Turnberry.

Cink won the play-off by six shots to deny 59-year-old Watson the chance of a fairytale sixth Open win.

Watson had ended level with Cink on two under after he missed a putt for the title on the 18th.

England's Lee Westwood and Chris Wood were one under with Luke Donald, Mathew Goggin and Retief Goosen level par.

Cink was regarded as one of the outsiders for the Championship this week as the world number 33 had previously claimed only one top-10 finish at the Open while having just five wins in his PGA Tour career.

Cink delighted with first major title

But he showed gritty determination on Sunday to secure an 11th American victory in the Open since 1995.

"I'm a little intimidated by this piece of hardware," said Cink upon receiving the Claret Jug. "There are a lot of emotions running through my mind and my heart and I'm just proud to be here with this."

Cink's victory came at the end of a thrilling final day on the west coast of Scotland which saw the lead change several times.

He had started the final round three behind overnight leader Watson but managed to stay in the hunt as the leading players started falling back.

Cink reached the 18th on one under, level par for the day, before setting the clubhouse lead with a 15ft birdie putt for a 69. "The most crucial putt I have ever struck," he said.

Watson meanwhile, who had led by one going into the final day as he chased his first Open triumph since 1983, was in the last group out but needing a par at the last to claim a magical victory, he could only manage a bogey and was forced into the play-off.


The eight-time major winner suddenly looked drained by his efforts this week and was comprehensively outplayed in the extra holes, playing them four over par while Cink was two under.

Cink, a four-time Ryder Cup star, added: "Extraordinary, it's been a surreal experience. Playing against Tom Watson, this just doesn't happen. I grew up watching him and hoping I could follow in his footsteps. I'm happy just to be a part of it let alone win."

For Watson, who would have become the oldest ever major winner had he won, it was a case of what might have been as he rekindled memories of his 'Duel In The Sun' Open victory at Turnberry in 1977 with his stirring display this week.

It would have been a great story - Watson

"Overall I played well but it was a disappointment," he said. "I could have done better on the last hole and the wheels came off in the play-off.

"In my profession when you have a chance to win the World Open as I call it, and you give it away as I did, it is a big disappointment."

The final day was also a letdown for Westwood, who was in with a real chance of becoming the first Briton to win the Open since Paul Lawrie in 1999 and first Englishman to win it since Nick Faldo in 1992.

Westwood was two behind Watson coming into day three and took the lead twice in the final round, with an eagle at the 7th and when Watson dropped a shot at the 14th.

But the 36-year-old could not maintain his challenge, however, with three bogeys in the final four holes after finding the sand twice.

"I've gone from frustration to sickness now," said the world number 17, who narrowly missed out at last year's US Open. "I had a great chance.

"The biggest disappointment is three-putting the last. I hit a great shot out of the bunker but I couldn't finish it off. I've just got to keep working. My hard work is paying off because I'm getting closer."


Round-up - Day four at the Open

Chris Wood, who won the silver medal for leading amateur in coming tied for fifth at Royal Birkdale last year, again showed his promise with another impressive display.

He briefly took the clubhouse lead after firing four birdies and an eagle at the 7th but would have taken part in the play-off had he not bogeyed the last after missing the green with his approach.

"Last year helped me an awful lot today," he said after his 67. "It's weird to say I'm only 21 and I've contended in two majors already.

"As soon as I got to my shot behind the green on the last, I thought I've hit this shot so many times I actually fancied myself to hole it.

"It's difficult to play a shot out of the think rough when you are nervous. I hit as good as I can and hit a great putt, it just didn't go in for me."

Donald, 31, had five birdies in a 67 for his best Open finish. "It's nice to come over and figure it out," he said.

Goggin, who teed off in the final pairing with Watson, could only manage a 73 - three bogeys in his final five holes derailing his bid - while Goosen could not get his challenge going until it was too late, firing an eagle at the 17th for a 72.

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez (69) ended on two over with 16-year-old Italian amateur Matteo Manassero (69), who won this year's silver medal, and England's Ross Fisher.

Fisher, who started the day just one behind overnight leader Watson, led by three thanks to two birdies in his opening two holes.

But the 28-year-old, who finished fifth at this year's US Open, unravelled on the front nine with three bogeys as well as a quadruple bogey eight at the 5th to card a 75.

"It's a shame," said Fisher, whose wife Jo is expecting their first child. "I fought all the way and just one bad swung cost me an eight.

"That's golf, these things happen. I've tasted being the leader of the Open championship so it's pretty cool. Unfortunately it didn't last."

American Jim Furyk (76) finished on five over, one ahead of Spain's Sergio Garcia (71) and joint second-round leader Steve Marino (75).

Ireland's Padraig Harrington, chasing a hat-trick of Open titles, closed with a 73 to end up 12 over for the tournament.

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