CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND — Surely Andres Romero just shot one of the most melodramatic rounds in the lush history of the British Open.
He got to 67 Sunday via 10 birdies, two double bogeys, two bogeys and four pars. His back nine featured zero pars. He shot one under par on the back nine even though his back nine included two double bogeys and one bogey.
He faced a lousy lie in a waterlogged pot bunker on No. 11, but chipped in. His approach on No. 12 caromed off a marshal's shoe and under a menacing forest of foliage, prompting a double-bogey six. With a two-shot lead on No. 17, he drove into the rough on the right, then bounced his second shot off the stone embankment of the Barry Burn, yet missed the water and wound up out of bounds to the right.
"I feel very pleased, but the pressure certainly caught up with me," he said.
Never mind that, he followed the blunder at 17 from the same spot by mashing a brilliant approach to within 25 feet.
Then, he still can pine away for a 12-foot par save attempt at No. 18 that looked true, hit the left side of the hole, lipped out and wound up costing him a playoff slot. Playing in only his third major, he has played two British Opens tied for eighth in 2006 and alone in third in 2007.
"He should be proud of how he played," said playing partner Jim Furyk.
Before Padraig Harrington went twice into the Barry Burn on No. 18, Romero's fumble of a two-shot lead seemed downright Van de Velde-ian.
"There's one advantage," said Romero, who gave up his monocycling hobby for a golf career that's yielded $492,310 this year on the European Tour. "I did it on 17 and not 18."
For the first time since the 2006 U.S. Open in which he suffered the only major missed cut of his career, Tiger Woods spent no Sunday time in contention.
He shot 70 to finish tied for 12th, and in a sense never seemed comfortable after starting the second round with a drive that sprayed left and danced into the Barry Burn. His two-under par finish owed to some phenomenal scrambling.
He did say that his 1-month-old daughter, Sam, might make the trip to Birkdale in 2008 along with his wife, Elin.
"It's been a week, and it's hard to believe you can miss something only being gone for a week. But I certainly do miss them. I'm looking forward to seeing them."
An Irishman won the title, and an 18-year-old Northern Irishman won the silver medal for low amateur.
"I'm still the same old Rory McIlroy," Rory McIlroy said. "I'll go up to the Holywood Golf Club" -- in Holywood, Northern Ireland -- "after this, I'll see my mates and stuff, and nothing will have changed."
Immediately, though, he'll vacation in Dubai, but play no golf.
"I'll probably spend most of my time inside," he said. "It's very hot there at the moment, so I'll probably do a bit of skiing, on the [indoor] ski run."
At times through the week, the leading Americans seemed to be Woods, then at turns Boo Weekley, Jim Furyk, Chris DiMarco and Steve Stricker. But after Stricker followed the putting-genius 64 that carried him to second place on Saturday by missing three-footers and shooting 74 on Sunday, the top Americans wound up Stewart Cink and Hunter Mahan, who tied for sixth.
Cink overcame an unsightly blue shirt that looked like a car ran over it and shot 70, while Mahan, 25, got out early in the unthreatening drizzle and shot 65. "Coming down 18 at any British Open is just a great feeling with the grandstands on both sides," said Mahan, who finished four-under par for the second consecutive British Open.
Stricker's course-record-tying 64, on a longer course than Colin Montgomerie and Alan Tait had mastered similarly, went one day before it found company from Australian left-hander Richard Green, 36, who would've had 63 had he parred No. 18 on Sunday.
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HIT AND MISS
* Hit: It might ransack the average human's brain to make two trips into the Barry Burn in a single 72nd hole of a British Open, so as Padraig Harrington stood behind that menacing creek after his second drop on No. 18, he seemed just as likely to retire from the game as chip with any prowess. Then, suddenly, "I hit a lovely chip," he said, and indeed, it rose, smacked down, scampered just past the hole and stopped obediently, setting up a rival for hit of the day, the mandatory five-foot putt that saved double bogey. "Holing the putt was probably the most pressure-filled putt I had of the day," he said.
* Miss: With so many candidates including Harrington's two trips into the Barry Burn, a shot would've had to go spectacularly awry to trump all others. Andres Romero already had hit a shot on No. 12 that bounced off a marshal's shoe and into dense foliage. But even that paled next to his second shot on No. 17, a two-iron from the rough that never got up, ricocheted off the stone embankment beside the Barry Burn and, while avoiding the water, flew to the right out of bounds, so amiss that it took a few seconds for anybody to figure out where it went. "I wasn't certain of which club to play, and perhaps that was my mistake," he said.
-- CHUCK CULPEPPER