Open at Royal Troon
Stenson sees off Mickelson to land first major
Golf – Open: Henrik Stenson wrote his place Open history by winning a close fought battle with Phil Mickelson to lift the Claret Jug for the first time.
The 40-year-old Swede finished with a birdie to card a final round 63, two ahead of his US partner.
Closing the tournament at Royal Troon 20 under, he exchanged the lead with Mickelson several times but made the decisive breakthrough by edging two shots ahead at the 15th, giving him a 68, 65, 68 and 63 tally.
Stenson equalled the course record with his final round and the four rounds set a new low score for an Open Championship.
After collecting his first major he said: “This will take a while to sink in, I am still getting my bearings.
“It seems like it was not going to be anyone else but the two of us. I am delighted to come out on top. Thank you very much for a great fight.
“I want to thank my wife, my family, my team, all the hard work has helped to make this possible and my caddie Gareth Lord.
“I lost a dear friend on Wednesday morning in the States from cancer and I feel like he has been with me all week, Mike this one is for you.”
The contest between Stenson and Mickelson over the final 36 holes drew an obvious comparison with the 1977 Open “dual in the sun” which matched Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry.
Unlike that pairing, who played in intense heat, this one was contested in unfavourable weather. But the quality of play was undiminished. Inevitably, in view of their names, it has been dubbed the “duel of the sons”.
Mickelson can count himself particularly unlucky to have met a rival in such red hot form. The American left-hander dropped just four shots throughout the tournament and his 17-under total would have have won 140 of the previous 144 Championships.
“I played well enough to win by a number of strokes and got beat,” said Mickelson, who has been runner-up in 11 majors.
Final placings (top five):
|3||-6||J B Holmes||70||70||69||69||278|