Irish Eyes Are Smiling – Again

Lewine Mair's Open notebook captures the best from a memorable week at Royal St George's, which saw Darren Clarke become the third Irishman to win a major championship in the past thirteen months

Tom Watson showed how Royal St. George's could be played during the worst of conditionsWHO WOULD believe that a 61-year-old American could teach people from the UK how best to approach golf in the worst of British weather?

Tom Watson was nothing short of phenomenal on the Saturday morning. No amount of wind and rain affected his equilibrium as he returned a 72 at a time when as good a links golfer as Paul Lawrie was amassing an 81. Watson never stopped smiling, never stopped embracing the conditions.

“Well,” he said, “the conditions were bothersome but you just try to do the best you can ... You have to keep your grips dry and your wits about you.”

To no-one’s great surprise, the Watson way had something of a knock-on effect. On the Thursday of the subsequent Evian Masters, when the rain was as dramatic as any at Royal St George’s, you could not tell from the women’s expressions that there was anything amiss with the elements. They were like so many Tom Watsons as they went serenely on their way.

WHAT IS it with that Phil Mickelson smile? One way and another, it certainly sends out mixed messages. It was in place at the start of his final round and remained intact even when he started missing short putts and catching bunkers. By the end, there must have been rather more than this correspondent itching for him to fling a club.


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