• The Swede set records tumbling en route to maiden major
• "It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I'm very happy," he said
HENRIK STENSON | THE OPEN
"We'll never see perfection on a links like that ever again in our lives," said Sir Nick Faldo of Henrik Stenson’s stunning performance at Royal Troon.
And the three-time major winner may not be far wrong, for the Swede – in pursuit of his maiden major title – shot a record final round 63 to topple five-time major winner Phil Mickelson in a shoot-out that has been likened to the famous Duel in the Sun between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977.
“It's probably the best I've played and not won,” conceded Mickelson. “I played a bogey-free round of 65 in the final round of a major. Usually that's good enough to do it, and I got beat.”
Considering the start Stenson made, the end result was even more incredible. The one-shot overnight lead was a one-shot deficit by the second tee box but that was the first of only two bogeys in a round which featured a staggering ten birdies.
As a result, Tiger Woods’ 16-year long record of the lowest score to par at the Open fell as Stenson posted 20-under – which also matched Jason Day’s major score to par record at the US PGA Championship last year – while at 264, he posted the lowest 72-hole score in major championship history.
“It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I'm very happy,” said Henrik Stenson. “Very proud of the way I played. It was a great match with Phil. I knew he wasn't going to back down at any point, and in a way that makes it easier for myself. I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances and 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 on the final stretch.
And the Swede, who finished runner-up to Mickelson at Muirfield in 2013, revealed he knew deep down that this was going to be his week, and thanked fans for their support throughout the week at Royal Troon.
“It's not something you want to run around and shout, but I felt like this was going to be my turn,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to battle back if it wasn't, but I think that was the extra self-belief that made me go all the way this week.
“I guess I'm a third Scottish now, aren't I?” he joked. “I've really felt the support here, even though Phil is a very popular major champion and a very popular player. I really want to thank the fans for doing their part. They were really pushing me on. I'm European so this was the one that was closest to my heart, so I'm delighted to have won it.”
Henrik Stenson v Phil Mickelson :: Where does it rank?
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