Sunday, July 17, 2016

Swede sets record low aggregate - 20 under par - after closing 63

Henrik Stenson's brilliance claims Open glory 

after thrilling duel with Phil Mickelson

Sweden's Henrik Stenson, 40, 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 46-year-old left-hander Phil Mickelson from San Diego, California in a memorable battle at The 145th Open.
The vast crowds at Royal Troon were treated to a masterclass of golf by the leading pair that revived memories of the "Duel in the Sun" between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus a few miles down the Ayrshire coast at Turnberry in 1977.
It was Sweden's Stenson - the first Scandinavian to win the Open - who prevailed as a major record-equalling 63 gave him a three-shot victory on 20 under par, a record low aggregate for golf's oldest major.
Mickelson's stellar 65 would have been more than enough to lift the Claret Jug on most occasions, but he could not quite keep pace with the ice-cool Swede, runner-up in the 2013 Open, as the man from Gothenburg who lives at Lake Nona, Florida, birdied four of the final five holes to settle an enthralling battle in what was a fitting finale to the historic first Open on Sky Sports.

Henrik Stenson shot a final round 63 to win The Open, his first major championship, as he edged out Phil Mickelson in a thrilling final round
A measure of the sheer brilliance of the final pair was that J B Holmes won the race for third place - a full 14 shots behind the champion - as the remainder of the field became irrelevant in the hunt for the title. 
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.

Henrik Stenson celebrates a birdie at the 14th to spark a run of four over the last five holes
Henrik Stenson celebrates a birdie at the 14th to spark a run of four over the last five holes
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.
Both enjoyed cast-iron pars at nine to turn in 32, and their remarkable form continued at the 10th - one of the toughest holes on the course - as Stenson holed from 12 feet for birdie before Mickelson followed him in.

Phil Mickelson regained the lead on the front nine, but he could not match Stenson's remarkable finish
Phil Mickelson regained the lead on the front nine, but he could not match Stenson's remarkable finish
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.
Mickelson came within a whisker of getting the shot back at the next before he found himself trailing again with four to play as Stenson rolled in his longest putt of the day to get to 17 under.

The Swede's red-hot putter earned him his eighth birdie of an incredible round at 15 to double his advantage, which he retained with a sublime up-and-down from the fescue grass to the left of the long 16th to match the birdie of Mickelson, whose eagle putt settled on the edge of the hole.
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.

Stenson almost found one of the deep fairway traps with his final tee shot, but his ball pulled up a few feet short of the bunker and he took advantage with another precise blow to the heart of the green.
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.
Americans filled four of the top 10 places - 2nd, third, fourth and ninth.
Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton finished strongly to be the highest placed British players in joint fifth place on 280. McIlroy signed off with a 67 and Hatton with a 68. Also on 280 was Spain's Sergio Garcia who had a last round of 69.
Andrew "Beefy" Johnston - the Bearded One - fourth at the start of the last day sagged to a final round of two-over 73 and eighth place on 281.



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