Golf

Henrik Stenson wins first main with dominating 63 in last spherical at Open Championship

TROON, Scotland — Phil Mickelson stopped on the glass-encased claret jug beside the primary tee and kissed it together with his fingertips.

Perhaps Hollywood wanted the footage for every time they resolve to make Phil The Thrill, starring Chris Hemsworth and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

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Then he went out and birdied the primary gap to Henrik Stenson’s bogey, and took the lead within the last spherical of the 145th Open Championship.

Sadly for the screenplay — and even sadder for the 46-year-old who might not have an infinite variety of probabilities to do one thing this particular once more — it was the final Mickelson noticed of the lead all day.

He walked into the trail of, and obtained run over by, one of many biggest final-round performances within the historical past of main championship golf Sunday at Royal Troon, and arguably one of many best weeks since Tiger Woods strafed Pebble Seaside and received the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 pictures.

Aside from Mickelson, the closest participant to Stenson was J.B. Holmes, 14 strokes again.

Anybody who would scoff at a comparability to 1977’s Duel within the Solar at Turnberry, the place Tom Watson received an epic weekend battle from Jack Nicklaus, can cease studying proper now.

As a result of this was very very similar to it, minus the solar. Even that peeked out a bit over the ultimate 9 holes, when situations softened a tad.

“I don’t keep in mind being in a match like that, the place we’d separated ourselves from the sector by so many strokes,” a disconsolate Mickelson stated later. “I performed a bogey-free spherical of 65 within the last spherical of a serious, normally that’s adequate to do it — and I obtained beat. I obtained beat by 10 birdies, and its not like different guys had been on the market doing the identical factor. It was a difficult day.”

Peter Morrison / AP Peter Morrison / AP

Stenson performed the spherical of his life and wanted it, taking pictures 63 to tie the key championship scoring file, twice birdied three holes in a row, and when he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th, he broke Woods’ all-time Open Championship strokes-below-par file of 19-under.

Aside from that, he was simply okay.

“I felt like this was going to be my flip,” stated the 40-year-old Swede, abandoning his common comedian banter for a extra severe tone. “It’s not one thing you need to run round and shout, however I felt like this was going to be my flip. I knew I used to be going to need to battle again if it wasn’t, however I believe that was the additional self-belief that made me go all the way in which this week.”

Perhaps he actually was in shock, but when so, it didn’t hit him till after he performed an almost good spherical of golf to high off a shocking week — 68-65-68-63 — on a course that beat up lots of the world’s nice gamers.

Andy Buchanan / AFP / Getty Photographs ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP-Getty Photographs

“It was a fantastic match with Phil,” Stenson stated. “It appeared prefer it was going to be a two-horse race, and it was all the way in which to the tip. I knew he wasn’t going to again down at any level, and I knew I needed to carry on pushing, carry on giving myself birdie probabilities and he wasn’t going to present it to me.”

It was additionally a draining couple of days.

“Proper now I’m working on adrenaline,” he stated, “however there shall be some level after I’ll wrestle to make it up the steps after I get again to the home, I’m certain.”

He stared down Mickelson, who hit the ball and putted superbly all week, over the ultimate two days and ultimately, broke him together with his second run of three birdies in a row on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes.

The large second was a 50-foot bomb from the perimeter off the 15th inexperienced, together with his opponent half the space away. Mickelson’s putt turned about six inches within the final two ft and sidestepped the entrance lip.

It was the primary time all day the 2 had been separated by greater than a single shot — they had been tied on eight holes, Stenson led by one on 5 others — and there was no means again.

Mickelson, attempting to grow to be the oldest Open champion since Previous Tom Morris in 1867, shot the bottom last spherical of his profession in a serious and misplaced by three.

Andrew Redington / Getty Photographs Andrew Redington / Getty Photographs

After seven top-five finishes in majors, together with two ties for third and a sole runner-up to Mickelson at Muirfield in 2013, this was a long-awaited affirmation of Stenson’s huge expertise and ball-striking genius — he by no means needed to chip, all day — and to lastly, in his phrases “get one throughout the end line” at Troon.

He’d been requested so many instances over time, as was Jesper Parnevik earlier than him, when a Swede would ever win a serious.

“Yeah, I imply we had it earlier than Padraig (Harrington) received at Carnoustie, ‘When are we going to have a European main winner?’ Then he managed to do this, after which there’s all the time one other query,” Stenson stated.

“I really feel very privileged to be the one to carry this trophy. There’s been many nice gamers from my nation tried in previous years and many years and there’s been a few actually shut calls. Jesper particularly twice. So he despatched me a message, ‘Exit and end what I didn’t handle to complete,’ and I’m actually proud to have completed that, and it’s going to be large for golf in Sweden with this win.

“And sure, it was annoying,” he grinned, calling it the best day of his life, subsequent to the beginning of his three kids.

“Cautious,” stated a reporter.

He appeared to his left.

“My spouse is over within the nook there,” he stated. “Thanks for the reminder.”

ccole@postmedia.com

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