Sensational Stenson outlasts Mickelson in Open classic


Henrik Stenson produced one of the great final-round performances to overcome Phil Mickelson in a sensational battle and win his first major title at the 145th Open Championship.

Thirty-nine years on from the famous 'Duel in the Sun' at Turnberry, which saw Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus surge clear of the field before the former prevailed by a stroke, fans were treated to another two-way tussle for the Claret Jug that will live long in the memory.

Mickelson - chasing his second Open title and sixth major - was able to keep pace with Stenson for much of a thrilling Sunday at Royal Troon, the lead changing hands with regularity as both men excelled to leave the rest of the field trailing in their wake.

Yet the Swede ultimately prevailed by three shots with a record-breaking Open total of 20 under, after making a remarkable 10 birdies in a final round that ranks alongside the best in major history.

Stenson, second to Mickelson in the 2013 Open, can finally celebrate a maiden major success at the age of 40, having become the fourth successive first-time winner in golf's premier strokeplay events.

Mickelson, who came within a hair's breadth of carding a record-equalling 62 in round one, could hardly have done more to avoid an 11th runner-up finish in majors, his own round of 65 bettered only by the champion on Sunday.

The final pair's dominance was summed up by the fact Mickelson finished 11 strokes clear of JB Holmes in third, with Steve Stricker (-5) rounding out the top four ahead of Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Tyrrell Hatton.

Mickelson set the tone by birdieing the first hole to reclaim the lead as his playing partner made bogey.

However, Stenson responded superbly, picking up shots at the next three holes to reach -14, a mark matched by Mickelson courtesy of a spectacular eagle on the fourth.

The birdies continued to flow for both men over the remainder of the front nine, Stenson hitting the turn with a one-stroke advantage after he made birdie at the Postage Stamp and saw Mickelson miss a shorter putt for a two.

Mickelson was able to follow his rival in for birdie at 10, after each had turned in 32, and found himself back in a share of the lead when Stenson three-putted for bogey at the tough 11th.

A spectacular par save at the 12th, for the second day in succession, kept Mickelson on level terms, yet Stenson was soon back ahead, a mid-range putt on the short 14th securing his seventh birdie of the day.

When he followed that up with a monster birdie putt from off the 15th green, there were two shots between the leaders for the first time.

And although Mickelson came agonisingly close to an eagle at 16, Stenson was not to be denied as he picked up two further shots - including a fitting gain at the last - to complete a remarkable performance.