The two-man show that Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson set up when they distanced themselves from the field in the first three rounds was a show indeed, with both men turning in phenomenal performances that could make a strong argument for this being the best British Open final round since Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus went head-to-head in the “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry in 1977.
The day started with Mickelson trailing Stenson by one shot, which he quickly erased with a kick-in birdie on the first hole. The affair seesawed back and forth the rest of the way, until Stenson seized control for good with a birdie on the 15th hole. He made a 50-foot putt from off the green, a situation where simply making a two-putt par would have been exceptional.
That shot left Mickelson wondering what it would take to beat Stenson, as he finished with a 65 and posted 17-under for the tournament, but still lost by three shots to Stenson’s final round 63 and aggregate of 20-under par 264.
Stenson, having never won a Major, could have well been expected to collapse under the weight of the moment, but he did nothing of the sort. He could have been helped to maintain his focus by starting the final round with only a one-stroke advantage and the knowledge that it would take flawless golf to secure the win.