With the 2011 British Open complete, a few things need to be said about it.
One is that it was closer than the winning margin would seem to indicate. Over the final 36 holes, the worst position that Darren Clarke was in was a tie for the lead, and those ties usually didn't last long.
Still, there were a lot of players who were in contention at the halfway point, and some very big name golfers in contention for the majority of the day on Sunday.
So, while the last few holes were played with very little suspense, the majority of the remainder of the tournament was actually quite intriguing.
This tournament is certainly one that will be remembered by all golf fans, but certainly those who have followed golf since the mid-late 1990's or before.
As always, different elements are memorable for different people.
The British Open certainly gave us many players in their '40s who contended. Actually, one of them won, but we'll hear more from those stories a little later.
Tom Lewis held a share of the lead after 18 holes. He was the first amateur to hold a lead after a full round of a major in more than 30 years.
Additionally, Lewis' opening round 65 broke the record for the lowest round that an amateur has ever shot at the British Open. When you think about this tournament's tradition of amateurs, that's really a significant milestone.
Lewis struggled for the rest of the way, shooting a 74, 76, and 74 on his way to a tie for 30th place. None of those struggles change the fact that Lewis was the talk of the golf world after Thursday's play.
One other thing worth mentioning is that Lewis played his first two rounds with the man he was named after.
In the spirit of transitions, let's now shift our focus to Tom Watson, the man who Tom Lewis was named after.
Watson is one of the best links players in the history of the game, but he's 61 years old. At some point, his magic at this tournament has to run out.
Maybe it will someday, but it didn't happen here.
Watson carded three 72's and one 70 on his way to a tie for 22nd place. His ultimate moment of the week came on the sixth hole on Friday, when Watson made a hole in one.
It wasn't quite as memorable as his 2009 run, but 2011 wasn't anywhere near as painful.
One of the men that Tom Watson was tied with was Tom Lehman, who is 52 years old and was the captain of the American Ryder Cup team in 2006.
Finishing a few shots ahead of him in a tie for ninth place was Davis Love III, who will captain the American Ryder Cup squad in 2012.
These two were both contenders after Friday but faded a little over the weekend. Still, their performances were memorable.
These two, along with Watson and a few other golfers that we'll be hearing from, truly show how timeless this game is, especially at the British Open courses.
This "exercise" routine is truly one of the greatest things ever witnessed on television.
Jimenez was similar to Lehman and Love, in that he was strong through the opening two rounds but faded over the weekend.
Still, his performance at 47 years old was notable for more than just a pre-round exercise routine. Indeed, if Jimenez isn't Most Interesting Man in the World, who is?
Thomas Bjorn was a great sentimental pick this week. Eight years ago, Bjorn seemed to have the tournament won before taking three shots to get out of a greenside bunker on the 16th hole (that bunker now bears his name).
A win would have been the ultimate redemption for what happened eight years ago. While he fell short, his fourth place performance was hard to forget.
Bjorn also lost his father in May and was understandably quite emotional when talking about his father after his opening round 65, which put him in a tie for the 18 hole lead.
Let me clarify one thing, I have nothing against Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, or Rory McIlroy.
I wasn't cheering for Westwood and Donald to miss the cut, nor was I cheering for McIlroy to be a non factor over the weekend.
Still, the British Open is always the most unpredictable of the four majors. This year, everything about golf has been unpredictable, and that makes the game more exciting.
In addition to being English, Donald and Westwood are the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked golfers in the world. They were both pegged as serious contenders, but neither could find a way to play the weekend.
Coming off of his US Open win, McIlroy was the clear favorite this week. He made the cut but didn't do much over the weekend.
It's not a good thing for them, but the game is intriguing and unpredictable as it's been in a really long time.
In the spirit of unpredictability, we have Justin Leonard.
Leonard, who won the British Open in 1997, could not have started the 2011 tournament any better.
After making a birdie on the first three holes, it looked as though he might be a factor. Sure, it's just three holes, but that start is tough to top.
What happened next?
Well, he didn't make a single birdie for the rest of that round and made three bogeys to finish at a round of even par.
Then, he made one birdie and five bogeys during his second round to miss the cut.
You certainly can't win a tournament after three holes, but you would expect someone who plays the opening three holes better than any player in the field to at least make the cut, right?
Apparently not, and I'll have a hard time forgetting that.
This was Fowler's first real time in contention at a major.
He's still very young and unproven at the finish of tournaments, but Fowler showed that he has the kind of game that can win a British Open.
Is he overrated? Yeah, he is. Make no mistake about it, Fowler is a good golfer, but his play hasn't justified the kind of attention and hype that he gets.
But what he showed this week is that he's a future major winner. Remember that he's still 22 and with few exceptions (notably Rory McIlroy), a young major winner is anyone in his 20's.
Fowler has plenty of time.
Dustin Johnson should win a major in the very near future. He's followed a similar career path in majors to Rory McIlroy, and his raw talent is similar to McIlroy's. It's only a matter of time before that translates into major success.
We saw how brilliant Johnson could play with his back nine on Thursday. Actually, his back nines for most of the week were strong.
But if you're a more cynical person about Johnson, you could easily point out his second shot on the 14th hole on Sunday. Johnson was trying to lay up, but still hit his shot out of bounds. That's a choke, plain and simple, and it handed the tournament to Darren Clarke.
Memorable doesn't always mean good and doesn't always mean bad. Johnson gave us both extremes this week.
With a tie for second place, Phil Mickelson had his best performance ever at a British Open.
Sunday's front nine 30 was just spectacular. After Lefty birdied the tenth hole, it looked like he could do it.
Then, Mickelson missed some short putts, made four bogeys on the final eight holes and faded from contention.
If Mickelson is still in his prime, he's clearly at the very end of it. But this tournament has never been one that suited Mickelson's game well, and he was the only person to even have a share of the lead with Clarke on Sunday.
Regardless of where Mickelson is in his prime, he's not done.
Ricky Barnes didn't end up finishing in a very good position this week. Call me crazy, but that probably had something to do with the 41, 41, and 40 that he shot on the back nine in his final three rounds.
But the final placement isn't what's memorable about Barnes. What's memorable is that as an alternate, he was the last man in the field.
Actually, there were other alternates who were ahead of Barnes, but they couldn't make the tournament in time. Barnes could, but barely.
Still, much like Robert Rock did at at the US Open, Barnes seemingly walked right off of the plane onto the first tee, and he followed that with a good opening round.
In fact, Barnes' opening round 68 was his best score of the week by six shots. So much for practice and preparation.
Two holes in one were made this week. Both were made by players who were previously listed here.
The first came on Thursday when Dustin Johnson aced the 16th hole. Johnson was four-over par through his first 13 holes.
He then birdied 14, 15 and 17, and aced 16. In a matter of a couple of holes, Johnson went from a player who would struggle to make the cut to a genuine contender.
The other came from none other than Tom Watson, on Friday's sixth hole. Watson spent much of the first day being upstaged by his playing partner, so making an ace was his way of getting it back.
Actually, Watson was very gracious with Lewis, just as he is with everyone. The spotlight couldn't have been a big deal for him, but the ace was fun to see.
Even by British standards, Royal St. George's has some incredibly unpredictable, wild weather. This week was absolutely no different, as driving rainstorms lasted for about 10-20 minutes and were repeatedly followed by a blinding sun.
This is truly a great major venue. 2003's tournament was great. 2011's was great as well, as the course was tough, but fair.
A course can sometimes be an overlooked element of a tournament, unless it's too easy or too tough. When it finds a perfect balance between easy and difficult, that's something that needs to be recognized, and those responsible for it need to be praised.
The roar that was heard when Darren Clarke made his eagle on Sunday's seventh hole was deafening for me. Let me clarify that I was watching from my couch and the volume was not set particularly high.
All week, these fans were just terrific. Sure, they had their favorites, which is great, but they weren't disrespectful to anyone.
That's an example that fans of other sports need to follow better. Golf is generally good in that regard, but not always.
Bad fans can really hurt the quality of the tournament, just like a bad course can. Just like with a course, when the fans are good, they need to be applauded.
Where to start? Darren Clarke, the everyman, the man who smokes and drinks but has also been a great player for a long time, finally gets a major, a month short of his 43rd birthday.
This was his 20th attempt to win a British Open. That shattered the record for most appearances before winning. The last time that Clarke notched a top 10 in a major was the 2001 British Open.
We all know the story about his late wife Heather, who died of breast cancer in 2006. Now, five years later, Clarke was an afterthought, even in his own country.
The last two US Open champions are Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy. Both hail from Northern Ireland and both mention Clarke as an inspiration to them. Now, Clarke finally gets a major win of his own.
Clarke was stellar all week, particularly with his ball striking. This would have been an absolute blowout if he had putted as well on Saturday as he did on Sunday.
And when the shots weren't great, Clarke generally got a great bounce and wasn't afraid to acknowledge that he was lucky.
Who knows if this will be renaissance for Clarke's career. It could be, and it could be one last moment in the sun. Frankly, at this point, who cares?
Clarke was hands down the best golfer all week. He deserves the win and deserves the praise that he is getting from it.