Whew…what an amazing final round at The Open Championship by Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. This post is normally done on Monday but I needed a day to catch my breath and take in what we all witnessed on Sunday. It was truly amazing.
The two veteran golfers went head-to-head on Saturday with the day ending with Stenson holding a single stroke lead over Mickelson. Phil started the day with the 36-hole lead. Henrik bested him two shots to take the 54-hole lead. We were set for Day 2 of the showdown.
No one could have foreseen what was going to happen on the final round of the 145th Open Championship. No one. Royal Troon was about to be the location of a historical finish. Possibly the best ever in a major championship.
The two did not make us wait long to see action. The fireworks started on the opening hole. Phil stuck his approach to just outside a foot. Stenson 3-putted from about 100 feet away and we had a new leader.
Stenson birdied the par 4 2nd hole while Mickelson almost chipped in for birdie and had to settle for a tap in par and we had a tie at the top. This was going to be good.
The big Swede followed his birdie at No.2 with another 3 on the par 4 3rd hole and watch Mickelson make his second straight par. Just like that we had the second lead change of the day and they had only played three holes.
It was at this point that we got the feeling that we were about to witness a serious battle. Still we had no idea what was about to happen. This was the beginning of a fight. Henrik and Phil were in the early stage of the greatest final round battle that I have ever seen.
Phil took the lead back on the par 5 4th hole with an eagle 3. Henrik only made birdie and fell a stroke back. Another lead change.
It was like watching two heavyweight boxers standing in the middle of the ring throwing hay-makers at each other round after round. Neither man looked shaken and neither man backed down. It was incredible. Oh and by the way…they were leaving the rest of the field far behind them in the rear-view mirror.
By the time the pair made the turn they were tied at 14-under par and seven shots clear of the field. They were not done. Not by a long shot. In fact Stenson was just getting started.
A bogey by Stenson on the par 4 11th hole, the most difficult on the course for the week gave Mickelson the lead again. But it would be his last of The Open Championship.
Stenson would incredibly go on to birdie holes 14, 15, 16 and 18. Mickelson barely missed an eagle on the par 5 16th and settled for birdie but that was it down the stretch for Phil.
Henrik Stenson’s score of 264 is the lowest score in any major championship in history. At 20-under par it ties Jason Day’s 20-under at the PGA Championship last year. Day’s score was 268. The “Iceman” owned the final day at Royal Troon.
Phil Mickelson’s final score of 17-under 267 would have won 141 of the previous Open Championships. A consummate professional, Lefty gave Stenson a big hug as they walked off the 18th green. Henrik responded with a hug in return and walked with his arm around Phil’s shoulder.
The two most certainly understood in the moment what they had just done. It was as fantastic to see as the play was all day long.
Congratulations to Henrik Stenson, Champion Golfer of the Year!!
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