The 2008 British Open - Final Notes

For only the second time in history, the British Open has been won by a player from the Republic of Ireland, Padraig Harrington.

The first time was last year, and the winner was... the same Padraig Harrington. So Padraig is now the first Irishman to win, the second Irishman to win and the first European to win back-to-back, in a quarter of a century. And that's impressive... And it makes me quite proud as Padraig is a distant cousin of mine.

Of course the huge story of this windswept event at Royal Birkdale was Greg Norman.

In the end, it was another "what could have been" story for a man who's had so many of those in his golf career. But this one was way different from those of the past, from those bitter defeats and monumental meltdowns in what were meant to be his glory years.

This year Greg Norman's Open Championship story was in no way bitter. You can't really be bitter when you're a newlywed, playing at such a high level, at 53, and you've achieved as much as Mr. Norman has, both on and off the course. With a two-shot lead heading into the final round yesterday, Mr. Norman ultimately came up short, resulting in a tie for third. Nonetheless, his 2008 British Open adventure was totally unexpected, universally uplifting and an extraordinary inspiration to watch.

Finally, anyone who knows me, knows I've been a huge fan of a certain stylish Englishman since the beginning of time...well, since the beginning of this blog anyway. That, of course, would be the fashionable, fun-loving Ian Poulter, and I've occasionally taken some slack for my fidelity to a golfer known mainly for his clothes or... total lack thereof. Ian's golf was overshadowed by glittery slacks or offbeat head gear. Off course, he had a predilection for posing nude...and then there was the "me and Tiger" statement that caused such controversy early this year. Well, in a rather discreet white-on-white over pale pink outfit, Ian Poulter carded a one-under 69 yesterday for a second place finish, and most are now seeing beyond the flashy fashion sense to the solid golf skills that may well land this player on the European Ryder Cup. Much to my delight.

The quintessential windy, gray, English weather was also part of the story, coming into play as it did, throughout the tournament. In the end, despite the absence of Tiger Woods, The 2008 British Open was both inspiring and entertaining... and that's exactly what I want from golf.

Photos - Stuart Franklin / Getty Images