A duel for the ages -- and a performance for the ages.
Major championships nearly always provide drama, but they don’t always provide quality golf on a final Sunday from two of the sport’s stars. The finish of the 145th Open Championship supplied all of the above, in a memorable finale that sparked images of Tom Watson & Jack Nicklaus’ famed Duel In The Sun at Turnberry in 1977.
Henrik Stenson ended his long wait for a major championship with one of the greatest performances in the game’s history — and one he needed to stay clear of Phil Mickelson. Both players raced even further away from the field with absurd final round scores of 63 and 65 respectively, numbers not at all reflective of Royal Troon’s difficulty. Stenson’s final putt on the 18th tied Johnny Miller’s 63 at Oakmont at the 1973 U.S. Open for the best round ever in the final round of a major
On a day when the golf course was expected to show some teeth, Mickelson and Stenson made the difficult links venue look tame. The two threw haymakers back and forth through the opening nine, with Stenson recording five birdies on the card and Mickelson an eagle and two birdies en route to both going out in 32.
Of course, things were sure to turn darker for the players when getting into the teeth of the golf course on back nine. They didn’t. Stenson rolled in a pair of birdie bombs on the 14th and 15th, pulling two ahead of Mickelson with three holes to play and heading to the par-5 16th.
Mickelson nearly punched right back on the 16th with an eagle — but his putt just darted outside the left lip at the last moments. But that was about all Phil had left in the tank — turning in his best major performance ever on a Sunday in a defeat.
Here’s the full final leaderboard from Troon.