Stenson clinches maiden Major golf title at British Open
Troon (Scotland), July 18 (IANS) Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson bagged his maiden Major title with a three-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson after the fourth round at the British Open at the Royal Troon Golf Club here on Sunday.
The world No.6 Swede came into the final round with a one-shot advantage over his American rival but the duo were tied at the top of the leaderboard with five holes to play as they went blow-for-blow in an enthralling contest.
A birdie on the par – three 14th moved Stenson ahead and when he drained a remarkable 50-foot effort on the next, the pair were separated by two shots for the first time all day.
Stenson maintained the gap before birding the last to finish at 20-under 264 total with a 63 and beat Mickelson by three shots.
Stenson had finished second behind Mickelson at Muirfield in 2013 but the circumstances were very different here as the pair played together in the final group on Saturday and Sunday to produce a duel of the highest quality and drama.
As well as becoming Sweden’s first Major champion, Stenson broke a host of records with the lowest total to par in British Open history and the lowest ever final round by a winner.
His 63 — a total matched by Mickelson on Thursday — equalled the lowest round in Major history and his 264 aggregate score is the lowest ever in a Major Championship.
The 40-year-old also moved level with Robert Karlsson on 11 wins on the European Tour — the most ever by a Swede — and adds Major glory to his 2013 Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup titles.
“I’m delighted but it hasn’t sunk in yet. When you’re fighting as hard as I have done out there today and against Phil for a number of days now, it’s just relief when you’re coming off the 18th and you know it’s done,” Stenson told the European Tour’s website.
“It was great, in a small way it makes it easier because you know he is not going to back away, I know I need to play at my very best and I’m just so happy I managed to do that and get over the finish line.
“You feel the pressure. As a Swede we’ve had a couple of close calls over the years. There’s been many before that tried and I’m just delighted that I made it for Sweden and all the other guys that tried in past years. It’s a sweet moment.”
American J.B. Holmes finished third after carding two-under 69 that took his four-day total to six-under 278 – one shot ahead of compatriot Steve Stricker, who added a 69.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton shared the fifth spot on four-under 280.