British Open 2016: Henrik Stenson Outduels Phil Mickelson to Capture Claret Jug

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by Michael Bamberger

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TROON, Scotland — Who saw that coming? Who saw Phil Mickelson, during 46, a personality of zero some-more suggestive than a Tuesday practice-round bragging-rights compare given his 2013 British Open victory, entrance to a unrelenting links of Royal Troon, personification 4 days of scarcely ideal golf, sharpened 17 underneath par, and losing by three?

But that’s what happened here on Sunday.

In one of a biggest displays of golf this championship has ever seen, Henrik Stenson, during 40, became a initial Swede to explain a men’s vital pretension with his feat during a 145th British Open. The final spin was a overwhelming arrangement of mano a mano golf, as Stenson and Mickelson, going off in a final dyad of a day, totally distanced themselves from a rest of a margin and matched any other roughly shot for shot in what amounted to golf museum as a many exhilarating.

MORE: View a Final Leaderboard  |  British Open Payout Breakdown

Commentators, including a gents during NBC, who were doing their initial promote of golf’s oldest and grandest championship, were tempted to call it Duel in a Sun II. At that epic ’77 Open, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson went during it, roughly alone, for dual days. But that would be a stretch. For one thing, nonetheless Mickelson is roughly during Watson’s spin among a all-time greats, Stenson, pleasant and gifted yet he is, is no Nicklaus. Troon does not have a overwhelming beauty of Turnberry, that is usually down a road. Also, there was no object for many of a day until it appearance out here and there nearby a finish of a round, when Stenson went berserk with his dabble — with his everything — personification a final 5 holes in 4 underneath par. Still, Mickelson, an consultant (with immeasurable experience) during being a seemly runner-up, could see a tie to DITS, when Watson prevailed by a shot over Nicklaus. “It positively crossed my mind a small bit out there today, when Jack and Tom and went head-to-head in ’77,” pronounced Mickelson, who finished second in a vital for a 11th time. “I know we wanted to be some-more of Tom in that box than Jack.”

Stenson won with a final-round, record-tying 63. He finished 10 birdies, and it noted a 29th time that 63 had been shot in a vital championship. (Johnny Miller, during a 1973 U.S. Open during Oakmont, is a usually other champion to do it in a final round.) All Mickelson did was post a bogey-free, six-under 65. For 14 holes, a dual were never some-more than a shot apart, one actor regularly relating a other with a unbending proceed shot or a birdie hole-out.

At a start of a round, played underneath unexpected welcoming conditions after dual cold and stormy days that had players violation out ski caps, Stenson stood during 12 underneath par, a shot forward of Mickelson. Both had played illusory golf for 3 days—they were also interconnected on Saturday—but there was zero to advise a Sunday fireworks they produced. Stenson, a high and gaunt Swede who will certainly be on a European Ryder Cup organisation in late September, has a prolonged story of common play on Sundays. He came to Troon with 9 top-10 finishes in majors, including a second a year Mickelson won during Muirfield. As for Mickelson, he has been experimenting with putters and dabble grips as a partial of his diversion that was once his biggest item had spin a liability.

But afterwards came Sunday, a final act to a inhabitant pretension that finished we roughly forget about a disturbance of Oakmont, where a treacherous manners conditions and fluid play by a 54-hole leader, Shane Lowry, finished a day reduction than glorious. When Stenson bogeyed a brief and true par-4 1st and Mickelson holed an roughly gimme birdie putt, a 54-hole scoreboard totals were unexpected meaningless. Mickelson led by a shot as a dual went to a 2nd tee.

A shot is zero in links golf, where bad fitness in a fort can meant a 7 on your card, where balls get can mislaid in a gorse and a hay. But a one-shot lead during that impulse seemed significant. Mickelson had all a advantages. He was a five-time vital champion. He has played in a final organisation of vast events many, many times. He knows how to arise to a occasion. With a winds calm, he was in position to tract his approach around a march with precision. With a opening three-putt spook for Stenson, we had a feeling it would be deja vu all over again. Would he go for 80 on a par-71 march where Americans had won a final 6 claret jugs?



Photo: Getty Images

But over a subsequent scarcely 4 hours came a sign of since we watch and adore sports. There were no manners issues. (The gait in a final organisation was slow, though RA manners officials let it slide. The final organisation on a final day, personification for a oldest championship in golf, is never anything like a equine race. There are a lot of relocating parts.) This was simply a illusory arrangement of driving, iron play, putting and meditative that showed a best of a best currently are scarcely as good as Tiger Woods. Between a dual of them, attack tee shots scarcely a same length, smiling during any other by approach of speechless compliment, there was hardly a singular erring shot.

Stenson birdied a 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes. He gave a 5th a break—his birdie putt burnt a edge—but finished a 4 during a par-5 6th. Bam, pop, boom. A obtuse competition competence have folded adult a emporium by that point.

Mickelson did anything but. When he missed maybe a four-foot birdie putt on 3, he did something we occasionally see during a veteran tournament. He took a use cadence from a same spot—flagstick in, no ball—apparently perplexing to work out a kink. On a subsequent hole, a par-5 4th, Mickelson holed a roughly 10-foot putt for an eagle. He matched Stenson’s birdie on 6.

MORFIT: Rory, Spieth Show Strain of Great Expectations during Troon

And so they came to a many famous hole during Troon, No. 8, a little par-3 called Postage Stamp, personification about 120 yards. It’s a sawed-off nine-iron or crowd for these guys, who by this indicate both stood during 15 underneath par. Mickelson had a honor. He was dressed in a demeanour of his forebears, in charcoal-gray trousers and a black jumper. His face was reddish and wind-burned. His tee shot was a thing of beauty, withdrawal him a 12-footer. Stenson strike his to about 20 feet. The Swede made. The lefthander usually missed. The advantage swung to Stenson, who went out in 32 notwithstanding a spook on a 1st. Mickelson did too. Two 32s. Proof, among other things, that there is zero wrong with vouchsafing a players play and if a conditions lend themselves to scoring, and if a players can hoop themselves, low scores will follow.

Both birdied a 10th. When Stenson three-putted a 11th and Mickelson got adult and down for par, they were tied again.

The stakes for Mickelson were enormous. For one thing, he would adore to play in this year’s Ryder Cup; he has been on a past 10 U.S. teams. (Post-round, Stenson pronounced that he “absolutely” expects that Mickelson will be on a team.) Also, Mickelson is perplexing to stretch himself from an SEC review in that he was charged with no crime though was detected to have had vast gambling debts to veteran gambler Billy Walters, who was charged with insider trading. A win is always good for a veteran golfer, though this win would have finished all demeanour of good for Mickelson.

Unfortunately, for him and others who have been in a position of using into a hum saw, golf offers no defense. It is a game’s biggest strength and since so many typical sports fans don’t get it. Whatever Sunday problems he had in a past, Stenson went on another three-hole tear, to compare his one on a front. Birdie on 14, on 15, on 16. All Mickelson could do was watch and, since he is Phil, smile, while creation a dual pars and a birdie on those same holes. Stenson, who once nude to his undershorts to play a shot from a ghastly pool during Doral, who has a quirky and discerning clarity of humor, had a two-shot lead. A two-shot lead with dual to play has proven, often, to be nothing. Not even on this Sunday, that was a investigate in steadiness. Stenson’s birdie putt during a 17th singed a lip, and he twisted in a 20-footer during a home hole. Again, Mickelson could usually smile.



Photo: Getty Images

“I felt that this was going to be my turn,” pronounced Stenson, who speaks in a monotone that roughly brings to mind Bernhard Langer and masks his speed and intelligence. “We managed to lift divided from a rest of a field, and we both played some good golf. It creates it even some-more special to kick a aspirant like Phil. He’s been one of a best to play a game.”

How good was their golf? The third-place finisher, J.B. Holmes, was during 6 under.

The PGA Championship is next, in 11 days, followed by a Olympics and afterwards a Ryder Cup. You’ll be saying a lot of Henrik Stenson. No matter what he does in those 3 events, he’s a champion golfer of a year.



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