clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Phil Mickelson says his only chance to win The Open was to 'bend' Henrik Stenson’s putter

After a flawless final-round 65, Mickelson figures the only way he could have beaten Stenson in their monumental duel to finish the British Open was to 'bend his putter a little bit.'

The only regret Phil Mickelson has about his epic shootout with Henrik Stenson at the British Open 10 days ago is that he could do nothing -- legal or otherwise -- to stop his playing competitor from sinking just about every putt he sized up on the Royal Troon greens.

"I don't look back on the final round with anything that I would have done different, other than maybe go over to Stenson's bag and bend his putter a little bit," Mickelson said with a laugh during a Tuesday press conference ahead of this week’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol. "That's probably the only thing I could have done and had a chance."

Mickelson and Stenson engaged in what was essentially a match play contest for the ages in Sunday’s final round at The Open. With both golfers stuffing shots and sinking putts at a dizzying pace, the duo left the rest of the field in a chase for third place.

For sure, Mickelson did nothing to lose the tournament. It was just that Stenson was on a mission to claim his first major victory, which he accomplished by draining long birdie putts all day, especially those on the par-3 14th and par-4 15th holes. Two more birdies in his last three holes sealed the win for Stenson, who entered the finale with a one-stroke lead over Mickelson and went on to tie the major scoring record of 8-under 63 for the day and 20-under par for the week.

It was the monstrous stroke on the 15th green, though, that may have had Mickelson fantasizing about taking Stenson’s putter over his knee.

After such a virtuoso performance with the flat stick, to the tune of 27 putts and 10 birdies, it was only fitting that Stenson, who edged Mickelson by three shots, buried a 20-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, the ball dropping on its final rotation.

That left Lefty, who carded a flawless 65, with his 11th runner-up finish in a major, and ruing what could have been.

"I'll look back over time and my disappointment will probably increase, because I think it's the first time in my career that I have played to that level of golf and not had it be enough to win a tournament," the 2013 British Open champion said on Tuesday. "That's a disappointing thing because I would have loved to have added another Claret Jug."