Stenson outduels Mickelson to win The Open Championship

Hedrick Stenson's Open win is not only his first major title in his career but also the first for any male Sweedish golfer. Photo Courtesy: Tour Pro Golf Club
Henrick Stenson’s Open win is not only his first major title in his career but also the first for any male Swedish golfer. Photo Courtesy: Tour Pro Golf Club

By Jay Betsill

Henrik Stenson shot an 8-under 63 on Sunday to finish The Open Championship at 20-under and claim his first major championship.

In what was essentially a two-man race between Stenson and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, Stenson became only the second player in major golf history (Johnny Miller at Oakmont in 1973 was the other) to fire a 63 on Sunday en route to victory.

The 40-year-old Stenson played flawless golf, highlighted by a 50-foot birdie putt from off the green at the 15th that gave him a 2-shot lead with three holes to play.

Mickelson did not back down, almost draining an eagle putt on No. 16 on his way to a final round 65 and 17-under par total.

“I knew he wasn’t going to back down at any point, and in a way that makes it easier for myself,” Stenson said. “I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances. He wasn’t going to give it to me, so I had to pull away. I’m just delighted I managed to do that with a couple of birdies at the right time.”

Stenson became the ninth person over 40 to win his first major and also tied Jason Day’s record for lowest score in relation to par that was set last year at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. His previous best in a major was a tie for second behind Mickleson at the 2013 Open at Murifeld.

“It’s disappointing to come in second, but I’m happy for Henrik,” said Mickelson, who earned his 11th runner-up finish in a major championship. “I’ve always thought that he is one of the best ball strikers in the game and that major championships are perfectly suited for him. I knew that he would ultimately come through and win. I’m happy that he did. I’m disappointed that it was at my expense… It’s probably the best I’ve played and not won.”

Stenson earned $1,549,590 for his first place finish followed by Mickelson’s $890,190.

J.B. Holmes finished third, 14 shots behind Stenson.

Notables included Rory McIlroy (T5, -4), AT&T Byron Nelson champion Sergio Garcia (T5, -4), U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson (T9, -2), defending champion Zach Johnson (T12, -1), Colonial champion Jordan Spieth (T30, +2) and Adam Scott (T43, +5).

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Next up on the PGA Tour is the Canadian Open at Glenn Abbey Country Club followed by the season’s final major, the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club.