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It was a real pleasure trip for DiMarco

Chris DiMarco fell two shots short of Tiger Woods.
Chris DiMarco fell two shots short of Tiger Woods. (AP Photo)


HOYLAKE, England -- No, he didn't take with him the claret jug after yesterday's final round of the 135th British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

But Chris DiMarco took home something just as important -- a spot on the US Ryder Cup team.

Oh, he didn't clinch a spot, at least not officially, but by finishing second to Tiger Woods, DiMarco earned enough points to vault from 21st to sixth in the standings and it's a virtual lock he'll accompany captain Tom Lehman and the rest of the Americans to the K Club in Ireland in September.

``I had a lot on the line today, and this goes a long way toward that goal," said DiMarco, whose injury-plagued season was a big reason he had plummeted so low in the standings. Then, to compound his painful year, DiMarco's mother died July 4 and he withdrew from the Western Open.

There were those who wondered whether DiMarco would even make the trip overseas, but he brought his father, Rich, with him. In attendance, too, DiMarco said, was his mother, watching from above.

``I know my mom would be very proud of me right now," he said. ``If I close my eyes, I see her."

With DiMarco jumping into the top 10 in the Ryder Cup standings, Lucas Glover fell to No. 11, Davis Love to 12, Fred Couples to 13, and Tim Herron to 14.

Cheap thrills
Phil Mickelson continued his assault on the par 5s at Royal Liverpool, for all the good it did him. He birdied three of them, including the 16th for a fourth straight day, shot 2-under-par 70, but was still left at 5-under 283, tied for 22d, a whopping 13 behind. For the week, Mickelson was 12 under on the long holes, but he remains with just one top-10 finish in 14 attempts at this championship . . . We don't know what the bookmakers would have had for odds on this, but two Argentines -- Angel Cabrera (73--278, seventh) and Andres Romero (71--279, tied for eighth) -- finished top 10 . . . For the record, there were 1,559 birdies and 81 eagles, and the field average was 72.367 . . . It wasn't quite first to worst, but Graeme McDowell crashed like no one else at Royal Liverpool. From an opening 66 that put him into the lead, the man from Northern Ireland went 73-72-79--290 and finished tied for 61st.

Quite a dry spell
The stretch of majors without a victory for a European is now at 28, dating to Scotland's Paul Lawrie at the 1999 British Open. An Englishman hasn't won the British Open since Nick Faldo in 1992, and while so much pressure had been thrust upon Luke Donald (71--286) and David Howell (missed cut), it was Anthony Wall (69--280, tied for 11th) and Robert Rock (71--282, tied for 16th) who finished best . . . For most of the tournament, another Englishman, Greg Owen, was playing well, but he pulled a muscle in his leg hopping out of a bunker at the 18th hole in the second round and never felt right after that. ``I went straight to the [fitness trailer] van and they sorted me out," said Owen, who also praised his third-round playing competitor, Mickelson, for giving him the name of a physical therapist. ``I'll go and see him and see what happens," said Owen, who closed 75--283, tied for 22d . . . Paul Casey started out 72-70, but went 79-77 on the weekend and was last of the 71 players who made the cut. Still, he'd love for a British Open return to Hoylake. ``One, I can improve on this week," said Casey. ``Two, I think it is a very good golf course." Canadian Mike Weir (76--289) agreed. ``I hope it stays in the rotation," said Weir . . . David Duval (71--289) had similar sentiments after making the cut in a British for the first time since 2002. ``It was [as great] a links experience as any I've played, even St. Andrews," he said. Duval will skip the PGA Tour stop in Milwaukee, then play four in a row, which will take him through the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.

Bunker mentality
It's not like Vaughn Taylor hadn't been warned. He knew the bunkers at a links course would be penal and now he knows for sure. For proof, consider his woes at the par-4 eighth in his final round. There are four bunkers on the hole and he found two of them, a predicament that required him to use three shots en route to a quadruple bogey. ``It was such a stupid mistake on the tee shot," said Vaughn, who finished 74--294 and tied for 66th. His tee shot found a fairway bunker, then he tried to hit a pitching wedge out and up by the green, only his shot landed in another bunker. This time, he needed two shots. ``I'll definitely take the positives from it. When you're in 'em, you've got to play smart to get out of them." . . . Taylor hardly sounded like a player on top of his mental game, as in his last four starts he's missed one cut and finished no better than tied for 42d. It's hardly a good time, since he's now 10th in the Ryder Cup standings with only four tournaments left to get points. Yet, Taylor said he was thinking of skipping next week's tournament in Milwaukee. ``When I get in a spell like this, I don't know how to get out of them," he said. ``I need to rest up. I need to turn it around, and that's what I'm trying to do. I don't know if it's the right decision, but it's one of those things that I have to go with my feelings."

Amateur's hour
Norway's Marius Thorp birdied the par-5 18th to shoot 71--288 and cruise home as low amateur. Then again, only one other amateur made the cut, US Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari (75--295) of Italy . . . Whether it was a first has not been determined, but surely it's notable that Match 17 featured two men named Simon. Englishmen, both of them, and let the record show that there's still no separating them, for Simon Dyson and Simon Wakefield finished locked at 75--288 . . . Tom Watson, 56, shot 71--288 to finish joint 48th, then headed to his car for a drive up to Turnberry on the Scottish seacoast, site of next week's British Senior Open. That's where in 1977 Watson won his famous ``Duel in the Sun" with Jack Nicklaus . . . You like international spice? You had it at the beginning, because the top 15 names on the leaderboard featured players from seven countries and six continents . . . The top 10 and ties all earn invites back to next year's British Open, but of the 10 who earned them, only Hideto Tanihara (71--277, tied for fifth) and Romero perhaps will need them, the other eight players are most likely already exempt.

Ogilvy OK with it
Geoff Ogilvy wasn't ready to fault his schedule after shooting 72--282 to finish in a tie for 16th. It was his first tournament since winning the US Open last month, ``but I'm not convinced that if I had played last week [the Scottish Open] it would have helped," said the Aussie. He made the point that a lot of players have made: The Scottish Open at Loch Lomond doesn't prepare one for a week at a links course. ``It's the obvious tournament to play in the week before [the British Open], but it's such a different style of golf and I needed to get back to hitting the low shots," he said. After missing the cut in his first two British Open attempts, Ogilvy has now finished T-5 and T-16, and he shrugged off reporters who seemed to be questioning his form. ``It's all fine," he said. ``If I had had this [British] Open result without having won at Winged Foot, you'd be saying I'm having a great tournament. I'm not going too badly." . . . Ogilvy was one of a whopping 23 Aussies who qualified for this championship and 10 made the cut -- Adam Scott, Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard, Marcus Frasar, Mark Hensby, Brett Rumford, Rod Pampling, John Senden, Andrew Buckle, and Ogilvy . . . Ernie Els now has made the cut in 26 straight majors (he skipped The PGA Championship last summer), but Vijay Singh's streak came to an end at 15 thanks to a second-round 76 that left him 2 over and on an early bus out of Hoylake. Singh had not only made cuts, he had been impressive in the majors -- 11 top-10 finishes, including a victory . . . The week began with 24 players having made the cut in both majors this year, but 11 left early here. That leaves 13 who have made the cut in all three majors this year: Weir, Els, Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thomas Bjorn, Furyk, Mickelson, Cabrera, Donald, Scott, Allenby, Ogilvy, and Pampling.

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