British Open 2013 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers at Muirfield
In one of most exciting finishes at any major in recent years, the players finally wrested the headlines away from the Open Championship's Muirfield course, whose hard-edge fairways and glassy greens dominated play throughout the week.
Ultimately, it was hot-handed Phil Mickelson who bested the field with a final-round 66. As favorite son Lee Westwood faltered in his attempt to win his first major, Tiger Woods once again was unable to gain traction on the final day of a major to gather his 15th title.
The tournament was not without its issues, as the players complained early and often about windswept, browned-out Muirfield, and the R&A added insult to injury by penalizing players for slow play.
While considered the "fairest" of Open Championship golf courses, Muirfield was a true test of the players' patience, nerve and stamina.
Obviously, Phil is the biggest winner, so here are the other winners and losers.
Loser: Big American Hitters
American long-hitters Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson showed it takes more than a big bat to win the Open Championship.
Johnson shot 68 on the first day, which put him in a great position at three behind the winner. But he then shot a 76 in the third round and played the front nine of the last round in an awful 42. He just couldn't control himself on the hard-edged course where bad bounces lead to high scores.
Watson looked pretty good with his first-round 70, but after that, it was pretty much downhill for the former Masters winner.
Both men finished a dismal nine-over.
Winner: Shiv Kapur
While he eventually finished way back at 15-over par, Shiv Kapur ultimately will be the answer to a trivia question regarding no-names who made a splash at the 2013 British Open.
The Indian player ranked 253rd in the world shot an amazing 68 on the first day, putting him three under and two behind the leader. At one point in the round, he had six birdies in his first seven holes.
Loser: Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia, golf's favorite roller-coaster ride, looked like he was completely out of it after a Round 2 75. Then, he shot a 68 in Round 3 and put himself in position to make a move.
Garcia, who has played in 60 major events, sits only behind Lee Westwood as having played in the most majors without a win. He remains in that position with his fourth-round score of 75 and tie for 21st place.
Winner: Hunter Mahan
It shouldn't have been a shock to see Hunter Mahan in the last group on Sunday at Muirfield. He held the same position just a month or so ago at the U.S. Open. In both cases, he failed to win the event, but he is definitely a winner for putting himself in the position to do so.
Mahan, who is under the tutelage of golf-swing guru Sean Foley, hit Muirfield's greens with above-average regularity this week, allowing him to control his game and move up the leaderboard.
Even though he fell back to a tie for ninth place on Sunday, Mahan once again proved he is capable of a major win down the line.
Loser: Angel Cabrera
Angel Cabrera, the affable Argentinian with the big swing, came out of the gate with guns firing and a laudable 69 on the first day at Muirfield.
While not even ranked in the top 50 in the world, the maestro of majors looked like he would pound the course into submission and run by his vaunted competition.
But as the weekend transpired, his slashing style was not quite appropriate for the bouncy Muirfield course, and he slid back into a tie for 11th.
Winner: Ian Poulter
It wasn't Lee Westwood, but that other Englishman, Ian Poulter, who had the crowd buzzing on Sunday with his stellar 67.
The brash Poulter scorched the dried-out course by going five under in four holes as he made the turn, and it looked like his score would be the one to beat.
The-37-year-old, who made a name for himself at the Ryder Cup, finally brought his match-play prowess to a major, but his four-under score for the day was just not quite enough when all was said and done.
Loser: Rory McIlroy
When the dust settled and the leaderboard was finalized at Muirfield, there was one glaring but not unusual omission in the name of Rory McIlroy.
Young Rory has had his troubles of late, and whatever is bothering him became apparent very quickly when he shot an eight-over 79 in the first round. His scorecard included six bogeys and two doubles that were not necessarily caused by the difficulty of the course.
He followed with a 75 on the second day and missed the cut.
All is not lost for McIlory, who won four times last year, including the PGA Championship. Yet beyond adjusting to his new Nike clubs and worldwide fame, he will have to figure out how to get his head and the ball back into play.
Winner: Hideki Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama may be a footnote after being penalized for slow play in the third round, but he gained some redemption with his stellar play, fine finish and tie for sixth place.
The 21-year-old Matsuyama played with veteran consistency all week, showing why he is the top-ranked Japanese player in the world at No. 44.
Based on his play at Muirfield, this is surely not the last we have heard from him.
Loser: Lee Westwood
Say it ain't so, Lee.
Westwood walked into Sunday with a two-shot lead and ultimately fell just short once again. For the sentimental favorite who has played in more majors without a win than anyone currently on tour, it was just not meant to be. Five bogeys and only one birdie on the final day just would not cut it.
Westwood, who putted so brilliantly to gain the outright lead when the day began, just couldn't find the cup when it counted. History will be kind to Westwood, who, at 40 years old, still has plenty of time and game to make it happen. But the window to success is closing fast.
Winner: Henrik Stenson
Known as one of the best ball-strikers and longest hitters on the tour, Stenson made a valiant run at the Open. He bounced back from a third-round 74 to finish one behind Mickelson.
Currently ranked third in greens in regulation, Stenson brought his A-game to the narrow Muirfield course when it counted most.
On Sunday, it looked like he would be the man to beat when he began with two birdies in the first three holes. But two back-nine bogeys ended his run in the face of Mickelson's brilliant play.
Loser: Tiger Woods
By finishing two over for the tournament in a tie for sixth, Tiger succumbed to the past, and who knows what the future will bring?
It is now five years and counting for him as he continues his search for his 15th major title. He has never won when trailing going into the final day, and Muirfield was no different.
While he told the press after his final round that he "really had control" of his shot this week, his quest for his fourth Claret Jug ended with a bogey on the first, which was a telltale sign of the round.
It wasn't so much that he couldn't putt or that he kept missing fairways; he just didn't give himself a chance to make a charge, and charging is what Tiger is all about.
Tiger followed three bogeys on the front nine with two on the first two holes on the back nine, and his tournament and quest were over early.
Winner: Adam Scott
After last year's collapse at Royal Lytham, many observers were concerned about Scott's ability to rebound.
Well, forget that. He not only won the Masters this year, but also drove himself up the leaderboard at Muirfield, eventually taking hold of first place at one point in the last round. Scott continued to show the talent and the grit necessary to win a major title by carding a one-over 70 and finishing in a tie for third.
Ultimately, the Australian golfer, who has finished in the top 10 in four majors over the last two years, proved once again why he is a threat to win his second major title very soon.
Loser: The R&A
What incredible nerve the governing body has to penalize a player for playing too slowly on a course that was designed to muddle play.
The R&A started by warning 21-year old Hideki Matsuyama, Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink and Graeme McDowell in the third round for breaking the rule.
Then Matsuyama was docked a stroke when he took two minutes, 12 seconds—more than twice the allowable time—to play his second shot after his drive went into the gallery.
Matsuyama may not have won the tournament with that stroke, but it was a horrible call by the R&A, which lost favor for its unwarranted administration of the rules.