SANDWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 8th hole hole during the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George's on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

2011 British Open: Darren Clarke Earns First Major By Conquering Royal St. George's

Darren Clarke held the lead with a steady hand on Sunday to earn his first major. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson made runs, then imploded.

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2011 British Open: Darren Clarke Wins First Major Championship At Royal St. George's

After a career full of near-misses, a period of recession, and personal heartbreak, Darren Clarke has won the 2011 British Open. And Northern Ireland's beloved veteran could scarcely have done it more fittingly.

Clarke finished at 5-under for the tournament after a even-par final round 70, and pulled away from the field at Royal St. George's this week by playing more consistent golf than any other player. Clarke was the only player to play four rounds at par or better this week, but never went lower than 2-under for a day, stringing together a 68-68-69-70 week that left him three strokes clear of second place finishers Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

This is Clarke's first major championship, and he set a dubious record for persistence by breaking through at the Open Championship. Clarke is now the golfer with the most British Open appearances before his first victory, getting it done this year in his 20th start.

The chances that the gregarious, fun-loving Clarke won't be celebrating this victory into the wee hours in Sandwich (or, perhaps, elsewhere) are slim.

For more 2011 British Open news and results, stay with this StoryStream, visit SB Nation's golf hub, and check out our golf blog, Waggle Room. For full 2011 British Open scores, visit the official Open Championship leaderboard.

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Tiger Woods Will Not Play In British Open, Cites Concern Over Risking Further Injury

In recent days, it had appeared less and less likely that Tiger Woods would play in the 2011 British Open, and so Tuesday's news is hardly unexpected: the noted golf enthusiast indeed will not participate. The announcement was posted on Woods' website:

"Unfortunately, I've been advised that I should not play in the British Open," Woods said. "As I stated at the AT&T National, I am only going to come back when I'm 100 percent ready. I do not want to risk further injury. That's different for me, but I'm being smarter this time. I'm very disappointed and want to express my regrets to the British Open fans."

Sports betting site Bodog had listed Woods as the American with the best odds to win the Open Championship, which begins July 14th. Woods still hasn't played competitively since withdrawing from the Players Championship in mid-May; this will be the ninth consecutive event he has skipped. He won the 71st PGA Tour event of his career in September of 2009, and is still looking for the 72nd.

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