Cink buries Watson’s dreams

TURNBERRY: Tom Watson’s bid to make sporting history ended in heartbreak on Sunday as Stewart Cink emerged victorious from a play-off to deny his compatriot a sixth British Open title at the age of 59.

At the end of what was, for the most part, a 72-hole masterclass in the art of links golf, Watson’s quest to become the oldest major winner in history finally succumbed to emotional and physical fatigue over the course of the four decisive holes.

An up-and-down from sand on the fifth that Watson could not match gave Cink the edge in the

opening hole of the play-off and victory was assured when he birdied the third – the 17th – while Watson was running up a seven after taking two to escape from the rough he found off the tee.

At 36, it was Cink’s first major win and, after holing a 15-foot putt for a birdie on the 72nd hole to force the play-off before completing the four decisive holes in two under par, nobody could deny that he deserved it. But this will go down as

the Open which both Watson, who missed an eight foot putt to bogey the 72nd hole when a

par would have given him an extraordinary victory, and England’s Lee Westwood allowed to slip from their grasp.

Westwood’s chance of joining the major club evaporated as three bogeys in his last four holes left him with a closing 71 and a share of third place with fellow Englishman Chris Wood (67). Westwood had been been in pole position for much of the final round after following a two on the short sixth hole with an eagle on the 538-yard 7th to claim the outright lead for the first time. But he was pegged back on the back nine before finally wilting along with Watson’s

playing partner, the Australian Mathew Goggin (73) and Retief Goosen (72), who finished in a tie for fifth along with Luke Donald (67).

Less than a year after undergoing hip replacement surgery, Watson started the day one shot clear of Goggin and England’s Ross Fisher. He relinquished his lead on the first hole after depositing his approach from the middle of the fairway in a greenside bunker while, up ahead, Fisher had sunk a birdie putt. The trio were all square with eight holes to play.