When the final player finished hole number 18 at Muirfield, a shocking champion was crowned at the Open Championship. Phil Mickelson surged from behind to win the British Open after trailing by five shots heading into Sunday’s final round.
Lee Westwood once again came up short in a major tournament, remaining winless on golf’s biggest stages for his career.
Playing on a course that proved to be extremely difficult, Lefty was able to make up five shots on the leaders and bring home the coveted Claret Jug. The course was so difficult that Mickelson actually felt it necessary to criticize the course following his opening round 69.
“I don’t see anyone in the afternoon with a realistic chance (at shooting low). It’s a little overdone. I feel bad for these guys who have to go out and play it. There is a distinct disadvantage. Luck is always a factor but it this shouldn’t have been a factor,” he said in the club house after the first day was completed.
My how one day can change things. Rising to the challenge, Phil Mickelson was able to overcome an incredibly difficult course and surge from behind to capture the British Open crown.
Phil Mickelson’s five under par final round of 66 left him with a relatively comfortable victory after several other contenders stumbled on the final day. The top three players after round three were the only players under par heading into the final 18, however Phil Mickelson was the only player to finish the British Open under par for the week at three under.
Henrik Stenson finished in second place at even par.
The Southern California native culminated his growth into a well-rounded golfer capable of winning on any style course by conquering the links style Muirfield this weekend. Coming from a region where “loft and length and backspin rule, Mickelson has gradually acquired the skills and self-control required to become an honorary Scotsman with a club in hand,” Christopher Clarey of the NY Times says.
Tiger Woods was in the hunt heading into Sunday’s final round, trailing then 54 hold leader Lee Westwood by just two strokes. A dismal final round for the world number one player that included six bogeys en route to a three over par 74. He finished in a tie for sixth place at two over par for the tournament.
It has been five years since Tiger Woods won his 14th major title at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines. Critics have begun to question whether or not the 37 year old will ever catch Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
With five major titles now on his resume, Phil Mickelson has solidified his place in the discussion of the greatest golfers of all time after winning the British Open. The only major tournament that Phil has not won to this point in his career is the US Open, which he has notoriously struggled at.
Overjoyed after the victory, Phil said “I’m playing some of the best golf of my career. This is the best I have ever putted. Today will be one of the most memorable rounds I have ever played. It’s probably the greatest and most difficult win of my career. It is great to be part of any Open Championship and to win at Muirfield feels amazing.”
Always a fan favorite, with major number five Lefty now has established himself as a legitimate member of the all time great golfers debate. Phil Mickelson’s British Open win following his surge from five strokes back in the final round is one of the best comebacks in recent memory, the fact that he did on a course as difficult as Muirfield makes it all the more impressive.
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Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express