Henrik Stenson produced one of the most stunning final rounds in Open history and ended his long wait for a maiden major title after getting the better of Phil Mickelson in a memorable battle at The 145th Open.
The runaway leaders set the tone for the day over the first four holes, with a two-shot swing at the opener when Stenson three-putted from the front of the green while Mickelson converted an excellent pitch for birdie to reclaim the lead.
But Stenson atoned for his error with a 12-foot putt on the second after Mickelson grazed the edge of the hole with his chip, and the Swede was back in front on the next as he drained another putt from similar range.Stenson made it three birdies in a row at the long fourth, but Mickelson went one better as he smote a delightful second to six feet and the eagle putt was never in doubt.
The pair finally exchanged pars at the fifth and both made well-crafted birdies at the long sixth, and after the seventh was halved in par, Stenson edged back in front at the Postage Stamp – backing up a wedge to 12 feet with a perfect putt.But the intimidating 11th claimed its final victim of the week when Stenson three-putted from the fringe, although he looked set to be gifted back the outright lead when Mickelson got into bother for the second day running after a wayward drive at 12 only to emulate his third-round escape act when he sank a 15-foot putt to salvage a par.
Stenson refused to buckle at the par-three 17th as he sent a towering iron to seven feet and stood aside to watch Mickelson block his to the left of the green, although the 46-year-old kept his slim hopes alive with a nerveless putt for par and Stenson opened the door a little further when his birdie putt lipped out.And after Mickelson two-putted from long range for par, Stenson’s 15-footer for an incredible 10th birdie of the day dropped in the side of the cup and sealed the title of Champion Golfer for the Year, while also making him the first Scandinavian in history win a major title.