Follow the action, hole-by-hole, over day four of The Open Championship. We’ll be live blogging our way right through until the final shot is hit this evening.
11.06 – Good morning friends! Welcome to another day of shot-by-shot coverage of the Open Championship.
The kettle’s on, Hazel is firing out the stats and my broadband is working – not bad. Do send us your thoughts.
11.16 – So what are the standings? Some players are out on the course since 8am this morning – check out the Euroepan Tour’s live scoreboard here.
Overnight of course,Darren Clarke sat on top of the pile.
The Dungannon man followed rounds on Thursday and Friday with another wonderful performance. Clarke signed for a one-under-par round of 69.
And if Clarke was confounding the percieved wisdom that indicates that golf is now a young man’s game, Dustin Johnson was doing similar for the Americans.
If US golf is in decline, try telling Johnson that; he’s one behind Clarke. Who do we fancy out there? All my bets are nowhere to be seen if have to say.
11.25 – Ken Brown is out and about, waving his hanky around the place. Spectators aren’t enduring the Glasto-like conditions but it’s very breezy it seems.
11.37 – We’ve been accused of flogging the joke but that never stopped us before, let’s be honest. I forgot to post yesterday’s Rory McIlroy swing-o-meter – and I know you’ve been waiting for it.
11.38 – Rory’s just about to tee-off, for those asking on Darren Clarke goes out at 2.10pm.
11.45 – Garcia is talking the ear off McIlroy as they stride away from the first tee box. Both looked very relaxed.
11.51 – Am I alone in not being a big fan of Andrew Cotter? He seems like the kind of guy that your ex girlfriend would turn up with one night, the over-achieving Scotsman.
Garcia and first Rory roll in for par on the first, both stay at four over.
11.55 – Whatever about Cotter, there’s no sign quite yet of Mark James. He apologised yesterday for a gaffe about Northern Ireland.
McIlroy’s second tee shot sails over the ropes and into the matted turf of the spectators’ area; he won’t be too bad however we’re told – though he looks unhappy.
Garcia grips it and rips it and then chases after McIlroy for another chat.
11.57 – The BBC interview Simon Dyson, who – at 2 over – is the leading Englishman. He also, more importantly, features in TheScore’s chart of the week.
Prepare to have your mind blown.
12.00 – The green is quite circular on the second so Rory has a good sight here…. And he plays it wonderfully. A nice lowly-flighted one has him back on track.
Garcia, meanwhile, plays another nice one to pitch up on the other side of the hole to his playing partner.
12.04 – Rory birdie putts to go plus 3 and Garcia follows suit from a similar distance. They look like they’re having fun.
12.08 – Back at the first, Trevor Immelman and Tom Watson tee off. Uncle Tom gets a typically warm welcome from the grandstand.
CBS’s Jim Nantz is in the gantry too – what a treat. Then we’re treated to the sight of 61-year-old pulling on rain trousers. This is TV gold, ladies and gentlemen.
12.13 – It’s a double bogey for McIlroy in the end on the third. Sergio makes par – Nantz puts it down to the Spaniard’s ‘new-fangled grip’.
12.19 – Back at the first green, Immelman and Tom Watson are taking care of business. The veteran almost made an outrageous birdie putt but will take par.
Back on the first, the ‘plus 3s’ are getting going. My pal YE Yang is wearing lost-at-sea orange trousers. He starts with a poor shot. Before him, Charl Schwartzel got his day up and running.
12.26 – Garcia makes the putt of the week for me, Jeff. 80 feet maybe?
That’s two birdies in the first four – Sergio’s on the charge, baby!
12.29 – Rory makes par and isn’t doing too bad at all but he’s been overshadowed by the Spaniard.
12.34 – Paul Casey finishes up with a 72 while on the other end of the course, Ricky Fowler bounces from the clubhouse in his now-customary final day orange ensemble. Tiger’s Sunday red doesn’t look so bad from his perspective.
12.38 – We’re over on BBC1 now. Cue a crescendo of music as leader Darren Clarke and his agent Chubby Chandler stroll towards the clubhouse. Hazel Irvine tells us it’s 14 years since Clarke was in the final pairing at a Major. I wouldn’t have guessed that.
I walked the rope for his pairing on the Sunday of the Ryder Cup in Straffan in 2006; he handled all that emotion and pressure then – can he do it today?
12.43 – Davis Love: “There’s a lot of people in it. You just have to go out there and survive and see what happens. The best thing to do is not look at the leaderboard and just shoot what you shoot, I don’t know if that’s possible.”
“But the trick is to just go out there and play golf and enjoy the Open championship.”
12.53 – Sorry for the break in transmission, we endured some technical difficulties (read: more tea on computer).
Miguel Anger Jimenez has been talking: “I’ve been along the see front, very nice. A win would be memorable, in these conditions you have to focus on your game.”
He’s also been going through his cigar-in-mouth warm-up. Here’s Friday’s rendition:
12.56 – Tom Watson makes a good par on the fourth and Garcia keeps the momentum going with a par of his own on the sixth. He’s one over now, six behind the leader.
All the talk has been of Jimenez perhaps sealing a win for Spain in the first Open since Seve’s death – but could the younger man do it?
13.02 – Darren Clarke: It’s going to be a tough day out there with the wind but’s going to be a bit of fun and we see how we do. I hope I can go out there and hit the ball like I did yesterday and give myself a shot.
“You’re going to get a few bad bounces and bad lies – that’s links golf. You just have to get on with it.”
13.05 – Rory’s on the seventh – he’s smiling but it’s more wry than joyful at this stage. He knows he won’t be winning his second Major on the bounce.
Garcia on the other hand is on the move. He looks confident and has just lofted his second within 20 feet of the flag. If he holes this on the par 5, he’ll go fifth for the tournament. Big if though.
13.07 – Ricky Fowler mispronounces St George’s as St Georgia before correcting himself quickly. He is feeling right at home though this weekend in his Oklahoma State orange.
13.11 – Garcia walks away unhappy from the seventh despite a tap-in birdie, it could’ve been an eagle.
Moments later, Rory will take a one-shot penalty I think as he grounded his putter and took his putting stance before the ball moved. It’s a six for McIlroy on the par 5. Rotten luck, but sums it up for the Holywood man.
13.16 – Chubby Chandler interviewed:
“[Darren Clarke] came here knowing he had a good chance. The weather conspired to help him, I think. I’ve said nothing to him, we’ve had breakfast as normal. There’s a few things to say to him before he tees up but he’s been around 21 years so there’s no advice to give him but you just remind him of a few things.
“His life’s come back into play, his fiancee is here this week, his mum and dad are here, the kids will watch on telly. There was a long time when things weren’t right.”
13.27 – Sergio! He won’t be happy with a ‘momentum-sapping’ six after the balls seems to pop back out of the lip of the hole. Rory makes par.
Garcia – knowing him – will be left to wonder about that missed chance and the one before.
Darren Clarke is on the practice range in short sleeves while low flying planes are attracted to the same piece of green by the luminous Ricky Fowler. Again, Clarke is out at 2.10pm.
13.33 – Right, there’s nothing I’d like more than spend the rest of my Sunday with you all but I need to get my Harry Potter costume out of the attic and draw a lightening strike on my face in preparation for tonight’s cinema outing. Priorities.
In the meantime, our resident golf expert Neil will join us momentarily. Feel free to direct any correspondence his way. Niamh will run the GAA liveblog too, by the way, from 2pm. And there’ll be a collection outside the church gates after Mass.
13.39 – Thanks to Adrian for getting things started this morning. Looks like we have a great afternoon in store.
As I join you, Sergio Garcia pars the nineth. He must be rueing that double-bogey on the eighth though. It was a fairly bitter pill to swallow.
13.43 – Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson are away.That means there are only three groups left to go out.
13.52 – Lucas Glover starts off his day with a ball in the fairway. He knows how to win a Major.
He’s playing alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez whose ball just rolls into the rough but stops short of the thick stuff.
13.55 – Phil Mickelson makes a tricky four-footer on the first for par. Those kind of putts really are crucial early on. If you miss, it can dent your confidence for the rest of the round, but if you make it you begin to gain a bit of momentum.
13.59 – Darren Clarke is chatting away to Ken Brown on the chipping green. It’s not being broadcast, so we have no idea what they’re talking about, but I wonder will Ken divulge during his commentary later?
14.01 – Thomas Bjorn and Rickie Folwer are underway. Bjorn finds the semi-rough on the left and Rickie splits the middle of the fairway.
Rickie had the round of the day yesterday and I believe he will be the man taking home the Claret Jug tonight.
14.04 – Will Hynes has been onto us:
Has regular contributor David Elkin expressed his final round views on the Claret Jug’s destination yet? I believe he said he didn’t fancy Clarke to win it on Thursday- I wonder if his thoughts have changed regarding the Northern Irishman’s chances.
The ball is in your court David.
14.12 – Phil Mickelson birdies his second hole and lefty is now at one under. He can definitely makes some birdies out there.
Dustin Johnson gets his round underway with a big hook to the left. He has a habit of not winning Majors when leading on the final day. Does he have the nerve to see it out today?
Darren Clarke is also in the rough on the left, the deep rough.
14.19 – Clarke gouges one out of the rough and finds the green, albeit a long way away. Dustin Johnson gets a free drop from the spectator fence on the left and drops it into a good lie. He hits a lovely shot to about 15 feet and will have a birdie chance.
14.20 – The wind has just been measured at just over 30mph. That’s the strongest we’ve had all week.
14.29 – Clarke leaves his first putt 15 feet short but rattles in the par save. Dustin Johnson also makes a comfortable par.
With all groups now out on the course, let’s take a look at the leaderboard.
14.32 – Another birdie for Mickelson. That’s massive. He rolls in a 15-footer on the fourth to get to two under. He’s only three behind and the sight of him on the leaderboard will certainly frighten some.
14.38 – Darren Clarke has massive chance on the second… and he makes it. Birdie for Clarke. It was a brilliant approach from Darren into four feet and that putt went right in the middle. He now has a two shot lead.
Dustin Johnson makes a solid par.
14.51 – Clarke is on looking good with the putter. He rolls in a six-footer for par on number three.
His playing partner Dustin Johnson misses one from a similar length for par which means Clarke now has three shot lead.
Meanwhile, Jimenez is in serious trouble at the fourth. He’s had to take a penalty drop and only just managed to reach the green with his fourth shot. He ends up with a triple bogey which puts him back to three over and unfortunately it looks like his race is run already.
14.55 – Phil Mickelson’s hat is blown off his head as he hits his tee shot into the sixth hole. It doesn’t seem to have distracted him though.
Clarke finds a small bit of trouble off the tee on the fourth and will now need to get up-and-down from 70 yards for par.
15.00 – Phil Mickelson has birdied the sixth after a massive thirty foot putt. Not many people thought he was in contention at the start of the day but now he’s right in it. It looks like he’s in the mood with the putter as well which makes for a very very dangerous Phil Mickelson.
15.02 – Darren Clarke has missed his first par putt of the day. It has come at the just the wrong time as well, after Mickelson’s birdie. Phil will smell blood.
15.05 – Here’s the state of play with the leaders having played four holes.
15.11 – Outrageous drive from Dustin Johnson. The fifth hole is measuring 417 yards. He’s driven it past the green! Yes, you read that right, past the green. It was wind-assisted obviously, but still, that’s madness.
Mickelson, meanwhile, has found the par-five seventh in two and will have a chance for eagle.
15.17 – Phil Mickelson!! That’s an eagle! He’s now tied for the lead on five under. Three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes. Amazing stuff here at Royal St. Georges.
15.22 – Dustin Johnson didn’t make the most of that drive. He played a poor chip shot and missed his birdie putt. Clarke managed a par.
Rickie Fowler cleans up for a par on the sixth. He’s been going along fine, but given what’s been going on aroud him he’s lost a bit of ground.
15.25 – Another birdie chance for Mickelson on the eighth. The man is on fire.
Clarke also hits a good one into the par-three sixth.
15.27 – Clarke’s putt ducks towards the hole and finds the lip of the cup but stays out. A par.
Johnson leaves himself an eight-footer but misses and drops back to two under.
Clarke and Mickelson are now three shots ahead of the rest.
15.29 – Mickelson catches a piece of the hole but his too stays out. It had just a little too much pace, so he stays on five under.
15.32 – Sergio Garcia finishes off with a birdie for a round of two under to leave him on two over. That’s a tie for tenth at the moment.
Rory McIlroy bogeys the last to finish seven over for the tournament.
15.39 – Rory McIlroy has just given post-round interview to the BBC. He doesn’t believe his game really suits the conditions we saw yesterday, but says “I’m not going to change my game for one week a year.” He also says he believes he can win the Open, but that he’ll “have to wait for a year when the weather’s good.” He could be waiting a while.
15.45 – Unbelievable stuff here Jeff, I’m telling you now. Eagle for Darren Clarke!! It’s raining eagles at Royal St. Georges. That puts him at seven under. Seven under!
15.48 – That’s hugely significant from Darren Clarke. Not only does it put him two ahead of Mickelson, it puts him four ahead of Dustin Johnson in third and five ahead of Fowler and Bjorn in fourth.
The rain is now bucketing down, but there’s some daylight appearing between the leader and the rest of the field.
15.56 – After that short shower, the sun is out.
What a turn of events. Amid all the celebration of Clarke’s eagle, Mickelson missed a very short birdie chance and stays at five under. Clarke himself has found the eighth green and has a 25-footer for birdie.
16.01 – Clarke makes his par and Johnson follows him in.
Mickelson makes another birdie on the 10th. He’s rolled in yet another 20 footer. This is stunning golf from the American. He’s now six under. Nobody would have imagined that at the start of the day. He’s on course for the lowest round of the week and what a day to make it.
16.08 – Incredible bit of fortune for Darren Clarke. Hitting his second shot from the rough on the nineth, he plays a low running shot, but there are fairway bunkers. His ball is heading straight for the deepest of the lot, but takes a bounce just before it and hops over the bunker and runs along the ground up to the front of the green. It could have been disaster if it had hit the bunker.
16.10 – Big mistake from Mickelson. He goes to tap the ball in on the 11th and misses. That wasn’t more than two feet away. He’ll be kicking himself, because that was really nothing more than a tap in. He moves back to five under.
Meanwhile, Clarke taps in for par just as another shower arrives.
16.15 – Here’s a look at the leaderboard through nine holes.
16.23 – Another lovely approach from Clarke into the 10th hole. That’ll be another birdie chance.
Mickelson, meanwhile, pars the 12th.
Unless somebody gets something going quick, it’s looking increasingly like a two horse races.
16.28 – Dustin Johnson makes a birdie just after Clarke lips out with his attempt.
Clarke still leads by two.
There’s an ominous cloud approaching. We could be in for another shower.
16.34 – Darren Clarke finds a bunker off the the 11th tee, but it doesn’t look too bad. The ball is right in the middle of the sand so he’ll have room to work with.
Mickelson misses the green on 13 and will have to call on his short game skills again.
16.39 – Mickelson misses. He had chipped it up to seven feet, but the putt slides past the left hand side.
Clarke makes a solid putt to save par from the bunker and now leads by three with holes running out.
That shower has now arrived.
16.47 – Mickelson is plodding his way down the 14th hole, avoiding the out of bounds on the right of the par five. At this point, three shots behind, he probably needs to put a bit of pressure on but he’s playing the hole conservatively.
Clarke finds the green on 12th but he’s a long way from the pin.
16.52 – Mickelson plays a magnificent third shot and has a five footer for birdie.
Clarke makes a safe par at 12 as his partner Dustin Johnson rolls in a birdie to get to five under.
16.56 – The leaders have six to play, here’s how the board is looking.
16.58 – Phil misses his short birdie putt. That’s a big opportunity gone. He’s now three behind with only four holes to play. He’s going to need something special.
17.06 – Mickelson is hanging on now. After driving into the fairway bunker on 15, he has to pitch out and now has a 12 footer left for par at a time when he needs to be looking at birdies.
17.10 – Mickelson misses. He drops back to three under. That’s four behind and he only has three to play. He’s going to need a minor miracle.
It looks like it’s between Clarke and Johnson now.
17.13 – Huge mistake from Dustin Johnson. He’s put his second shot out of bounds on the 14th.
It’s now wide open for Darren Clarke.
17.18 – Double bogey for Dustin Johnson.
Darren Clarke now leads by four shots with four holes to play after a comfortable par.
17.27 – Darren Clarke has certainly had the luck today. For the second time in the round his ball bounces just in front of a bunker and hops over it. He’ll still need to get up-and-down for his par, but that was very fortunate.
17.38 – Par for Darren on 16. That’s all he needs at this point. He’s now four ahead with two to play.
Dustin Johnson needs a miracle.
17.42 – Phil Mickelson has just hit it into the middle of the grandstand on the 18th. A big wide. It may not have been row Z, but I’d say it was somewhere around J or K. Luckily for him, he gets some a free drop out of that and chips up to six feet.
17.47 – Phil Mickelson finishes on two under par. It’s not going to be good enough today, but boy did he make it entertaining. Three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes really rattled the leaders, but one after he missed a short putt early in the back nine his momentum seemed to die and he was chasing the game. It looks liek he’ll finish third which equals his best finish ever at the Open.
17.51 – Darren Clarke goes to the 18th hole with a three shot lead after bogeying the 17th. He missed a short putt for par but should have enough of a cushion to see this home.
17.55 – Clarke finds the fairway on the 18th. Johnson in trouble on the right.
17.58 – Rickie Fowler and Thomas Bjorn both finish with pars.
Fowler will be in a tie for fifth, Bjorn fourth on his own.
18.00 – Darren Clarke gets a standing ovation as he approaches the 18th green. His ball is just at the back left of the green. Johnson is in the bunker front-right.
18.11 – What a victory for Darren Clarke.
The eagle on the 7th really made it. Just when Phil Mickelson had put the pressure on, Darren Clarke had an eagle of his own to go two clear. Thereafter, he played some beautiful golf.
He struck the ball superbly all week. The big question today was whether the putter would obey and Clarke managed to tame it. Throw in a bit of luck and Clarke takes home the first Major of his career at the age of 42.
18.22 – The presentation ceremony is just underway. They are paying tribute to Seve Ballesteros and ask for a moment of applause in his memory.
18.26 – As the MC continues thanking the relevant people that need to be thanked, the camera cuts away to Darren Clarke and Phil Mickelson in a warm embrace.
18.32 – Darren Clarke lifts the Claret Jug.
He says he’ll be filling it with “black stuff”. Guinness will be delighted.
He pays tribute to his family and support team, particularly his manager Andrew Chandler who he says has really earned his money over the years.
18.36 – That’s it from me folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage today and indeed over the last four days. Thanks for all your comments and opinions, they are very much appreciated.
There’ll be plenty more reaction to Clarke’s big win coming up on the site so keep your eyes out for that.