I'VE BEEN WATCHING MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF for a long time, and the final-round duel at Royal Troon between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson was the best I've ever seen. Stenson prevailed, of course, shooting an 8-under 63 that included 10 birdies. Winner of the 145th Open Championship with a total of 20-under par, the Swede is a major winner at last.
Stenson knew he had a worthy opponent in Mickelson, and it made a difference in his approach.
"In a way it makes it easy when you're up against someone like Phil," Stenson told NBC's Mike Tirico. "You know he's not going to back down and he’s going to try to make birdies on every hole. So I just tried to do the same and [I'm] just delighted to come out on top and [that I] managed to win this [Claret Jug]."
Mickelson was no slouch, carding a 65 on Sunday that would have won most majors going away. It was one of his greatest major championship rounds in a long career -- and it still came up short.
"I thought we played pretty good golf," Lefty said. "I hit a lot of good shots and Henrik made 10 birdies. He and I have been friends for quite some time and I really like and respect him. I'm really happy for him, as much as I'm disappointed with the outcome. He's a class act and he played phenomenal. He hit the ball so solid yesterday and today especially."
"I've been so focused this week, this day in particular," Stenson said. "I've just been trying to stay in the moment. I felt like it was my time. I believed it was my time and managed to pull through and have a great finish."