Henrik Stenson has won the Open after shooting a brilliant final round of 63 at Royal Troon
There must be something about Ayrshire. Thirty nine years on from the duel in the sun, an epic combat between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry, Royal Troon staged a Sunday worthy of identical status. That is no exaggeration; Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson produced one of the finest denouements in the history of major championship golf. There was privilege in watching it. Not even a Mickelson 65 was good enough.
For Stenson, the Claret Jug and a major record-crushing score of 264. Or, in more simple speech, 20 under par. In his 42 nd major appearance, Stenson eventually reached his holy grail. He took simply 63 Sunday shootings in doing so.
Only Mickelson, who was eventually battered into submission ultimately falling short by three during the course of its shutting stretch may grudge the 40 -year-old his maiden major title. In cold reflection, hopefully the left-hander will appreciate the portion he played in a monumental tussle. Here is farther context: Mickelson finished 11 shootings clear of JB Holmes, who was third.
Stenson was inspired. He had to be, such was the pressure applied upon him by a player trying a sixth major at the age of 46. One of the more popular players on golfs scene has thereby delivered Swedens first victory in the sports prime four events.
Stenson has also touched upon karma. Allen Stanford, “the mens” who swindled millions of dollars from the golfer, continues to serve a 110 -year sentence in a Floridian incarcerate as Stenson etches his name into history books. Who emerged the very best from that deal, after all?
A sign of things to come arrived as the final grouping took to the 1st. For the first time in three days, the sun “re coming out” as an indicator of what the final 18 pits of the 145 th Open would make. An opening Mickelson birdie as Stenson three-putted levelled the scores at 12 under par. On the 2nd, Mickelson lipped out when chipping from off the green and over a bunker. The duo traded jolts during identical, stunning outward halves of 32. Stenson had regained the result by that turn, which is now being conceded again as the pair took to the 12 th tee in a tie-in at minus 16.
Mickelsons par save on 12, converted from outside 20 ft, suggested the golfing divinities may be smiling favourably upon him. That sentiment belied one key factor; this was to be Stensons period, an opportunity he wouldnt pass up. Stensons 22 nd birdie in simply 68 pits, from 12 ft at the 14 th, edged him back in front.
The advantage was two in the moment that perhaps defined this event. From off the 15 th green, Stenson holed for a birdie. Mickelson, a ferocious competitor but a respectful one, created a smile. The Americans look on the 16 th was of annoyance as an eagle putt slid so agonisingly past the hole.
Typically, Stensons short putt to allow the relative cushion of three shootings when standing on the 18 th tee was to miss. The theatre couldnt objective at 71 holes.
It duly didnt. Stensons tee shot at the last held up a mere inches from a treacherous fairway bunker. A career of near miss flashed before the Gothenburg men very eyes. Now he wouldnt be denied, a shot to the centre of the green and single putt triggering moving moments. The outpouring of Stenson emotion was entirely justified.
In constructing up the numbers, Steve Stricker finished in fourth, a shot adrift of Holmes. Dustin Johnson sneaked a top 10 finish with a Sunday 70. Jason Day, the world No1, signed off with a 71 for disappointing aggregate of plus one. Im simply used to greens that are 12, 13, 14 on the Stimpmeter, Day said. Then we get here and its nine. Plainly, thats understandable because of the conditions and these components that you have to combat out here, how windy it is, you have to keep them at a certain speed or else theyll blow off and it wont be fair for anyone.
I tried to get in early, tried to get used to the greens. It simply feels like Im making it with a sledgehammer and its going nowhere. Its something you have to get used to and unfortunately I simply didnt putt really well this week.
He just about admitted as much himself but it surely isnt asking too much for a player of Days standing to appropriately adjust to the pace of putting surfaces by the final day of a tournament.
Rory McIlroy will head for the final major of the season, at Baltusrol from Thursday week, in fine fettle. The 27 -year-old posted his best round of this Open, a 67, on day four. McIlroy thereby shared fifth.
I missed a few short putts the coming week but Im not really putting that down to anything, said McIlroy. I suppose I simply need to do a little bit of work and perhaps simply be a bit more confident over them. Tee to green was good and I can only be positive going into Baltusrol, really.
Im playing well. Im driving the ball great. I think thats a big thing, especially with the US PGA coming up. The PGAs are usually[ such that] if you can drive the ball well, youll do well. Ive had success in that tournament before. Ill go there feeling pretty good about myself.
Another reason for McIlroys cheer was that he could watch the ending to the third major of 2016. Sunday 17 July at Royal Troon will linger long in the memory, with Stensons recollections the most vivid of all. One of the most talented players of a generation is the nearly man no more.
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