Henrik Stenson carded a final-round joint record eight-under-par 63 to win The Open by three shots this past Sunday, finishing an impressive twenty-under-par total.
Following an enthralling final-round battle with American Phil Mickelson, the Swede, 40, birdied four of his final five holes to win his first major with an Open Championship record score of 20 under at Royal Troon.
Mickelson finished his final round with an eagle and four birdies for an impressive 65, with fellow American JB Holmes (69) third on six under.
Stenson’s 20-under total beat Tiger Woods' 19-under-par record total in winning The Open at St Andrews in 2000. It also equals Jason Day's record in a major, which the Australian world number one set at last year’s US PGA Championship.
His final-round 63 matches the lowest ever to win a major, on parallel with Johnny Miller's score to win the 1973 US Open at Oakmont.
"I had to play at my best to get it over the finish line," said the Swede. "I lost a dear friend on Wednesday morning in the United States from cancer and I feel like he has been with me all week. Mike this one is for you."
A Duel for The Ages
In hindsight, many will look back at this major as a duel that was for the ages.
The pairing of Stenson and Mickelson over the final 36 holes drew comparisons with the 1977 Open on this same stretch of Ayrshire coast, when Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus fought their famous 'Duel in the Sun'.
Stenson finished runner-up to Mickelson at the 2013 Open at Muirfield. Here, Stenson began the day a shot ahead on 12 under, only to lose the lead by the end of the first hole, as he bogeyed and Mickelson birdied.
Stenson responded by putting together five birdies over his next seven holes to edge one clear of Mickelson who managed one birdie and eagle.
The pair were level again when Stenson bogeyed 11 but was back in front with a birdie on the 14th and went two clear for the first time when he rolled in a 45-foot putt across the 15th green.
A third successive birdie on the 16th was matched by Mickelson and the American then rolled in an excellent par-saving putt on the 17th to stay two shots off the pace heading to the final tee. However, ‘Lefty’ put his approach way short on the last, while the Swede rolled in from 15 feet to close out with a final-round 63 and claim his first major title. Mickelson’s 17-under total would have won 140 of the previous 144 Championships. The American’s runner-up finish means he now has 11 second-place finishes in majors.
"I played well enough to win by a number of strokes and got beat," said Mickelson.
"I'm happy with the way I played, but disappointed it wasn't enough. I played a bogey-free round and shot 65 in the final round of a major, usually that's good enough to do it. And I got beat.”
The 2017 Masters®
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