Should Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson's final round be regarded as one of sports finest battles?


It was a shame there had to be a loser.

Henrik Stenson ended the day holding the Claret Jug aloft, but for a lot of sports fans - not just golf enthusiasts - they were left thinking that they had just witnessed one of the greatest sporting duels in history.

Phil Mickelson admitted afterwards that he had never played better and lost and it was hard to disagree as the American and Stenson peeled off 14 birdies and an eagle between them in a near-faultless display of sporting brilliance.

As the rest of the field slipped out of view - third-placed JB Holmes finished a remarkable 14 strokes behind Stenson - the final pairing engaged in a battle for victory that sent record tumbling and those watching it comparing it to the best sporting contests ever seen.

There was also comparisons to arguably The Open Championship's most memorable final-round battle, the famous Duel In The Sun, when Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus at nearby Turnberry in similar circumstances...only this time Stenson and Mickelson went even lower.

The records tumbled as both men tore up Royal Troon.

Stenson carded a closing 63 to become only the second player ever to finish a major on 20 under par, equalling the record set by Jason Day in last year's US PGA Championship, while his 72-hole total of 264 also eclipsed the previous best in a major set by David Toms in the 2001 US PGA and was three lower than the previous Open record set by Greg Norman at Sandwich in 1993.

After carding a Open-equalling record 63 on the opening day Mickelson closed with a six-under 65 yet still that was not enough as the Swede somehow found another gear in an already-searing content to pull away and claim his first major.

Stenson is regarded as one of the nice guys on the golf tour and, at the age of 40, and after enduring a significant slump in his career in 2011 there was nothing but love for a player dubbed The Ice Man.

People didn't want the contest to finish but, just maybe we will get a rematch soon...

Fingers crossed.