08:00:00: Welcome to the 2008 Live Blog of the final round of the 2008 British Open. In a world currently without the #1 player, Tiger Woods, a former #1 player has a two-shot lead. Can Greg Norman, revitalized by his new bride (and lightened by his $103M divorce settlement) shave the decades and hold off last year's winner, Padraig Harrington, and others like K.J. Choi, Simon Wakefield, Anthony Kim, Ben Curtis, and others?
08:18:30: In case it's not obvious, I would like to see Greg Norman win. The last thing I want to see is another collapse. I'd rather someone slowly overtake him than that, but as I said, I'd rather nobody overtake him at all. Go Greg.
08:26:00: Greg makes his way to the practice range wearing the opposite colors of yesterday: cream below with black on top. Tom Watson talks about how Greg is practicing on the far right side, giving himself a right-to-left breeze, and points out that he'll face a left-to-right breeze on the first hole.08:50:15: Zzzzzzzzzz. ABC is doing its best to put me to sleep until about 9:30. Or is that ESPN on Disney on ABC… on ESPN?
08:57:52: Ernie Els finishes up at +12, currently T25. Then we see Phil Mickelson, +14, and interviewed with Tom Rinaldi. He blames his putter for his poor performance.
09:11:54: Wakefield and Choi find the left and right rough, respectively. Ben Curtis, after a horrid drive, makes bogey and falls back to +8, six back.
09:14:02: Are you protecting your number? Are you attending the Mercedes-Benz Fair? "Where's the ferry? There's no boat!" Get used to seeing the same commercials over and over and over and over and over and over again.
09:20:00: Padraig Harrington chooses an iron off the first tee, and just finds the right intermediate cut. Greg Norman, who had previously pulled the driver, also goes with an iron and backs off, staring at someone in the crowd behind the tee. "Smart play in my opinion" says Tom Watson. After the delay, he stripes it down the middle of the fairway.
09:24:04: Choi and Wakefield bogey the first.
09:27:32: Harrington's 4-iron on the first hole comes up 50 yards short of the green. Ben Curtis hits his approach at the second to tap-in range; he'll get back to +7. Greg Norman's 3-iron finds the front-right greenside bunker. A very, very punchy swing. Norman has led eight majors going into the final round (including today). He's won once.
09:30:52: Padraig chips to tap-in distance. He'll save par. Norman will be lucky to do the same, leaving the ball 30 feet short and barely on the putting green. His par putt will eventually lip out and Norman will fall to +3.
09:37:44: Padraig's tee shot finds its way out of the super-thick stuff and into the intermediate cut on the left side of the second hole. Greg's tee shot goes left of that. Total number of shots (including one putt) between commercial breaks? Three.
09:41:38: Norman from 157 and a good lie, Norman goes left again, in fairway cut. Padraig finds the front of the green, 30 feet short.
09:44:22: Norman's chip rolls out six feet beyond the cup. Tom Watson and Paul Azinger talk about that the greens have not been mowed or rolled today due to the wind's effect yesterday as Choi's birdie at the third comes up quite short. Padraig just misses his birdie putt at the second.
09:46:36: as I sit here eating my Golden Grahams, I've just now realized that we've gone from a major in prime time to a major at breakfast time. Norman yanks his par putt and has given up his two strokes in two holes, now tied with Padraig.
09:52:44: The "in the fairway" cameras this week have been horrible, often scanning around the fairway with no golf ball in sight. Is it that tough to pick up the ball off the tee? Padraig find the right rough at the third while Greg's ball is nowhere to be found… which means it could be in the middle of the fairway for all we know.
09:54:59: Turns out he's in the right long stuff. Short and left and headed for a third straight five. Padraig finds the front right bunker, and I move back onto the couch for a few minutes.
10:02:02: Choi chokes away a short par putt at the fourth. Harrington, having nearly holed out his bunker shot, from 12 feet for par, makes it. Norman has ten feet to stay tied for the lead. His putt doesn't even have a chance and the stroke that Norman had earlier in the week seems to have left the Shark.
10:21:16: Ben Curtis makes par at the difficult sixth. Harrington is long and over a ridge on the green at the fifth. Norman leaves himself just off the green, three times closer than Padraig.
10:24:03: Chris Wood, an amateur, knocks down a birdie to get to +7, three back (but T4). Norman's putt misses wide right and he taps in for par, still +5.
10:27:26: Choi misses another par putt. He's bogeyed four out of his six holes and is +8. We see "Golf Trak" shows Norman's tee shot into the crap left of the sixth.
10:38:45: Norman saves bogey at the sixth, falling to +6, four over on his day. Harrington makes his par putt to stay two ahead at +4, even par on the day.
10:52:31: Harrington puts the first mark of the day on his card, a bogey at the par-three seventh, while Norman pars. Currently Padraig +5, Norman +6, and Wood/Wakefield +7.
11:08:24: Harrington's once steady putting stroke fails him as he three-putts from the front of the eighth green. Norman, despite the bad drive, easily tapped in for par. Padraig/Norman +6, Wakefield +7, and Flippin' Ian Poulter +8.
11:21:09: Poulter misses a short-ish birdie putt at the 13th, and Norman comes up short on the ninth with his birdie bid. Padraig has a lengthy par putt to stay tied for the lead. He would eventually miss, and has bogeyed three straight holes to fall out of the lead. Norman +6, Padraig +7, Wakefield/Poulter +8.
11:29:01: Tom Watson disagrees with Norman's "pedal to the metal" mentality as he takes driver - and goes way left - off the tenth tee. Padraig, with a fairway metal, also goes well left but may be on a spectator pathway.
11:39:43: Norman's strategy fails to pay off as he bogeys the tenth. Padraig's ball moves as he lifts his mark, but he'll play from the new spot, an inch or so left, and likely tap in from three feet for par to pull back into a tie with Norman at +7, five shots higher than Norman started the day.
11:44:19: Jim Furyk explodes out of the greenside bunker at the home hole and will likely tap in and take the clubhouse lead at +10. Odds of Jim Furyk winning the British Open? 10%, largely only because Poulter will come off the 15th (with only three holes to play, including the easy 17th), at +8.
11:54:43: Norman lips out a lengthy birdie putt at the 11th. Padraig's had come up well short, but he makes the knee knocker for par to remain tied with Norman at +7.
12:04:05: Flippin' Ian Poulter rolls in a birdie putt at the sixteenth to pull into a tie with Greg Norman and Padraig Harrington. Not a single person mentioned Ian Poulter in last night's coverage, but at this point, I'd give him a 30% chance to win the tournament.
12:06:26: Norman falls out of the lead, bogeying the 12th. Watson: "Still in the tournament." Poulter's odds go up to 50%.
12:11:39: Norman hits hybrid into the horrible bunker right on the 13th. We're reminded that Faldo at Muirfield is the last Englishman to win the British Open. From 190 out on the 17th, Poulter gets lucky and finds the putting green 50 feet away from the cup in two. A two-putt birdie will raise his odds to 70% in my estimation.
12:14:46: Padraig hits a great shot to the green at 13 and has 20 feet or less for birdie.
12:20:25: ABC puts up a graphic showing the highest winning scores in the past 50 years, but they somehow managed to leave out the 2007 and 2006 U.S. Opens. WTF? Poulter three-putts for par at the 17th and remains a 50% chance winner. Even Henrik Stenson, working on a round of +1, is in the mix.
12:21:55: Padraig knocks down his birdie putt. He leads by one. Norman bogeys to fall back to +9. Current leaderboard: Padraig +6, Flipper +7, Norman, Kim, Stenson, and Wood +9.
12:29:05: Poulter hits a horrible approach short and right on the 18th. Norman, from the bunker on the 14th, blasts 35 feet past the flag. He'll likely fall to +10 and has likely lost yet another major championship.
12:32:54: Norman makes the putt I had already declared missed, and remains within three of the lead. Two par fives await, but Padraig gets to play them too.
12:33:57: Flipper's bump and run up onto the 18th is steered left and he has 15 or 20 feet for par to get into the clubhouse at +7 and with a round of 69.
12:36:13: Chris Wood bogeys 18 to finish +10, currently T5. Tom Watson says "I'll see him at Augusta next year."
12:38:07: Poulter bangs in his 20 footer for par! He posts +7 and shoots 69 on a day when the scoring average is north of 75!
12:41:08: Padraig busts his second on the 15th onto the putting surface. He's now a 70% chance to win, assuming he two-putts. The 16th and 18th are playing relatively easily this week, and 17 is still the easiest hole on the course.
12:48:42: Padraig putts up to four feet. We see Norman's awesome bunker shot to five feet on tape delay. If Norman makes, he gets back to +8, temporarily two back of Padraig. He does. I'll give Padraig his putt and the leaderboard stands at Padraig +5, Poulter +7, Norman +8. Stenson had bogeyed 18 and is back at +9.
12:59:40: Padraig and Greg both find the green at the 16th - Padraig a bit farther away, and Norman just a bit outside of the place where Poulter holed his birdie putt.
13:02:38: Padraig's putt comes up just short and right; he taps in for par. Leader by two, two holes to play, and one of them a par five.
13:04:22: Tom Watson: "This will not be short." Greg leaves it short. How many times have we seen must-make putts left short? Annika at one of the LPGA majors this year, Paula Creamer in a playoff against Annika, Eric Axley last week at the John Deere, and Greg Norman at the 16th in the British Open.
13:08:44: Padraig "couldn't have walked it out there any better" on the 17th. He's 95% to win now, and will defend as the British Open champ, joining some pretty lustrous names.
13:13:08: Padraig puts it to FOUR FEET on the 17th and will have that putt for an eagle. At this point, he can Van de Velde it up the 18th and STILL win! Wow! Poulter can stop hitting balls on the practice range.
13:20:51: Norman lips out his birdie putt. If each of his four lip-outs had gone the other way, he'd be +4 and one back (giving Padraig his eagle) heading to the 18th hole. As Watson and Azinger said many times, "bad game planning," not so much execution, cost Norman this major.
13:22:12: Padraig knocks down his eagle putt, and leads Poulter by four heading to the 18th.
13:23:55: Tirico reminds us that Padraig almost didn't play. Azinger says "how about the last two major champs: one with a stress fracture, one with a broken leg." He seems to have forgotten that Trevor Immelman had a cyst removed in December before winning at Augusta and was in really, really poor health.
13:25:43: Greg Norman will still qualify for The Masters in 2009 by virtue of his top-four finish.
13:30:16: Padraig puts it to 10 feet on the 18th. He can safely five-putt and still win. Greg Norman, I'd like him to birdie just to tie for second. Rankin: "You're trying to muster it up, but deep inside you're really disappointed." Greg puts the ball into the front right bunker instead.
13:35:31: Padraig's kid asks to run out onto the green. Wait for your dad to putt, kid! Norman will of course finish out after blasting to 18 feet. He misses, bogeys, and will finish T3 with Henrik Stenson after shooting 77 on the final day of the British Open. Poulter is alone in second at +7, and Padraig at +3 with a chance to shoot 68 and finish +2 overall.
13:36:41: Does this week make Greg Norman the favorite at the Senior British Open?
13:37:16: Padraig misses, taps in, and wins by four, back to back in the British Open.