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Views: 272, Date:17/Jul/2016

Henrik Stenson Beats Phil Mickelson in British Open Duel

TROON, Scotland — Phil Mickelson has a documented history of runner-up finishes in major championships, having often endured memorable heartbreak on the final day of tournaments. But during the fourth round of this year’s British Open, after a surprising surge during its first three days, Mickelson did not make a bogey and shot a six-under-par 65, the lowest score he has ever posted in the final round of a major.


It was not enough because his playing partner, Henrik Stenson, had a record-setting Sunday, becoming only the second golfer to win a major championship with a final round of 63 in beating Mickelson by three strokes. Stenson’s score of 20 under par for the tournament tied Jason Day’s record for the lowest winning score relative to par in a major. Stenson’s aggregate four-day score of 264 was also a record for a major championship.


With pluck, precision and a steely putting stroke under pressure, Stenson, 40, made 10 birdies on Sunday, to go along with two bogeys, in becoming the first Swede to win a men’s major championship.


J. B. Holmes finished a distant third at six under.

“I felt, and I believed, like it was my time to do this,” Stenson said afterward. “I just had to stay focused on the moment, and I did not waver doing that.”



Phil Mickelson reacted to missing his eagle putt on No. 16. Credit Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Stenson, the world’s sixth-ranked golfer, had been in something of a slump until recently, with one win on the PGA and European Tours combined since 2014.
It was a pattern that mirrored Stenson’s major championship record. At the British Open, he had finished tied for third twice and second once — behind Mickelson in 2013.

Sunday did not start auspiciously for Stenson, who badly missed an 8-foot par putt and bogeyed the first hole. When Mickelson birdied the hole, he eclipsed the one-shot advantage Stenson had held overnight and vaulted into the lead.

But Stenson showed what would be the strength of his game Sunday on the next green.

Stenson has always been known as a great ball striker, especially with his irons. If he has had a weakness, it has been putting, and specifically putting under pressure. But in Sunday’s final round, Stenson put on an exhibition on the greens.

He sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole to tie Mickelson and drained a 15-foot putt for birdie on the third to take the lead as Mickelson missed his 4-foot birdie putt.

Mickelson’s eagled the fourth hole, but Stenson kept pace with his third birdie on the first four holes.

Mickelson said afterward, “I threw as much as I could at him, and he just kept making birdies.”

The two remained tied until the dicey par-3 eighth hole — known as the Postage Stamp — when Mickelson’s tee shot was considerably inside Stenson’s. But it was Stenson who made his birdie putt; Mickelson missed his.

Stenson held the one-shot advantage for only a few holes, missing a 5-foot par putt on the 11th hole. Mickelson made a spectacular par save after rescuing his ball from the fescue rough twice on the 12th hole, but Stenson surged ahead yet again on the 14th hole with his seventh birdie, converting a 20-foot putt.

The pivotal hole of the final round turned out to be the 15th. Stenson’s approach shot missed the green. But from the fringe, Stenson rolled in a 51-foot birdie putt that gave him a two-shot lead he never surrendered.

“I mean, Henrik made 10 birdies,” Mickelson said. “That’s impressive. I’m really happy for him, even if I’m disappointed with the outcome.”


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