While Darren Clarke withstood weather to win the 2011 British Open, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson had their chances — and promptly threw them away with erratic back nine play.
Mickelson played himself into contention with a scintillating front nine. Lefty had three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes, and tied Clarke for the lead at one juncture. He also had birdie putts on the eighth and ninth holes; had either fallen, Mickelson would have established a new career best for a front nine in a major.
But while Mickelson added to his lead on No. 10 with another birdie, things fell apart swiftly and completely shortly afterward. Mickelson bogeyed four of the next six holes, and parred the par 5 14th — the only time all week that Phil didn't play a par 5 under par — to fall back to 2-under for the day and the tournament.
It wasn't boring, even when the scores weren't bogeys: on the 18th, Mickelson sent a wayward iron into the stands, and still made par. And Mickelson's tie for second is actually his best finish in a British Open. But after a start that gave Mickelson a chance to threaten all-time major championship scoring records, the way it fizzled is undoubtedly disappointed.
Johnson, on the other hand, never made as good a sustained run as Mickelson did, but never could keep the pressure on Clarke. Two early bogeys meant three birdies in five holes only pulled Johnson to within two strokes Clarke early on the back nine, and a disastrous double bogey on the par 5 14th after a second shot that drifted out of bounds all but ended Johnson's chances of catching the eventual champion.
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.