After one of the most unpredictable British Open tournaments of the last decade, the 2013 edition of the Open Championship from Muirfield, Scotland, resulted in several unsung heroes getting their time to shine.
While many fans will look to locate the names of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and others, there were several under-the-radar players who fared very well this year and are deserving of attention.
All of the following players outperformed the expectations surrounding them and will look to carry that momentum into August’s PGA Championship and beyond.
Here is a look at the final leaderboard:
While there were many casual fans that had no idea who Henrik Stenson was before the 2013 British Open, there are few golf enthusiasts that will ever forget the second-place performance the Swedish star put on at Muirfield.
As a smart player who always looks to take the safest shots (he finished the tournament at even par), Stenson’s steady pace and consistency striking the ball were perfect for the always rugged nature of the Open Championship.
There is no doubt now that Stenson has the physical ability to be a viable contender throughout a tournament. The confidence he gained from a decisive second-place finish at a major championship should be enough to create serious momentum heading into the PGA Championship.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Not only was Spanish star Miguel Angel Jimenez able to hold the lead after 36 holes for the first time at a major in his career, but the 49-year-old fan favorite also proved that he still has the physical skills to contend for a championship.
While Jimenez ended up tied for 13th with a five-over-par final score, his taste of the lead and how he handled himself over the course of the entire tournament—facing both adversity and success in stride—ensures he will be in contention for the PGA Championship.
Few players have such vigor for life off the course like Jimenez, but it’s great to see the tour veteran proving that he is not a joke. The Spanish star showed just how great he can be at Muirfield and will look to follow it up with another great performance in August.
There aren't many players who hold as much esteem with golf fans as Irish veteran Darren Clarke.
While his career hasn’t been as great as it could have been (just one major championship at the 2011 British Open), his perennial contention at the Open Championship brings his name to the lips of the casual fans each year.
Clarke finished tied for 21st at seven-over par, and while that doesn’t look spectacular on the surface, the fact that winner Phil Mickelson was the only player under par and the Irish star shot rounds of 72, 71, 76 and 72 proves he was one of the best on the course all week.
While Clarke may struggle for most of the tour schedule, you can bet when the 2014 Open Championship from Liverpool commences, the Irish star will be in contention throughout the week.