Phil Mickelson called Sunday's win at The Open Championship the most fulfilling of his career, a win built on an incredible Sunday final round of 66 that might be the best 18-hole stretch of his career. For Mickelson, getting the Claret Jug was clearly the most difficult major championship task he faced. The U.S. Open is his white whale, but at least he always contends there and probably will again. The Open, on the other hand, had always confounded Phil and his high-ball hitting ways, the links wind often wiping out his chances before he even got to Sunday. After the win, he said he didn't know if he'd ever have the game and the shots equipped for The Open.
But Mickelson's form has developed over time and to the point where he now appreciates the links-style European golf. And that was on display Sunday when he put on a clinic to finish as the only player under par, running away with a three-shot win. It was his fifth major championship, but his first Open and he happily grasped the Claret Jug, the most famous trophy in golf:
Mickelson, who hilariously fumbled away his Scottish Open trophy last week, will get to keep the actual jug (not a replica) for a full year. He and caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay will undoubtedly enjoy some beverages out of the jug. Mackay was especially emotional following the win, reflecting on the disappointment of Merion a month ago and then Sunday's incredible round. He broke down at the side of the 18th green as Phil accepted the trophy and thanked his family and longtime caddie:
It was the second time Mackay got emotional, as he broke down a bit walking off the 18th green with Phil. There were still eight players out on the course, but almost everyone knew the birdie putt at No. 18 had sealed it up. So Bones wept:
Mackay called it the best round he's ever seen his loop play.
Bones, thru tears: "When you work for a guy for 21 years, and you watch him play the best round of golf he's ever played, it's pretty cool"— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) July 21, 2013
A pretty cool day for one of best golfers in the history of the game. Now, about that U.S. Open to finish off the career slam...