Super Stenson clinches the Open
Popular Swede Henrik Stenson produced the round of his life to claim his maiden Major crown at Royal Troon.
The 40-year-old carded an almost flawless round of 63 and an overall total of -20 to hold off a strong challenge from five-time Major champion Phil Mickelson to win the Claret Jug in South Ayrshire.
Henrik Stenson’s three-shot victory meant he became the first Swedish male golfer to win a Major.
The lead swung backwards and forwards in the opening stages as both players produced some amazing shots in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
Stenson’s one-shot overnight lead was reversed immediately on the first hole. His approach shot came up short but Mickelson’s superb chip landed inches away from hole. He made no mistake with the putt to go -12, while Stenson went a shot behind after missing his putt for a bogey.
However, the Swede hit back in clinical fashion in the next three holes to put that first hole blip firmly behind him, demonstrating a clinical ability on the greens to go one ahead again after the 3rd hole.
The duo were level on 14-under-par following the conclusion of the par-5 5th hole. Mickelson hammered a stunning shot close to the flag to set up an eagle chance, which he duly took. But Stenson’s killer form behind the putter did the business again as he slotted home a birdie.
Both players again held their nerve on the par-5 6th to sink crucial birdie putts and move to 15-under-par.
It was advantage Stenson on the tricky Postage Stamp 8th hole as the world No 6 stroked home a sublime 15-foot putt to go one ahead on -16.
Mickelson produced one of the iron shots of tournament on the 10th hole, firing the ball from the rough to within 10 foot of the hole. But the sparring battle continued as Stenson also fired a majestic iron shot close to the pin. Stenson sunk his putt to claim his sixth birdie of the round to temporarily go two clear on -17. However, he couldn’t seem to shake Mickelson’s challenge as the five-time Major winner holed his putt to keep the distance to just one shot.
A dropped shot on the 11th for Stenson after the ball lipped out meant it was level again on -16 with seven holes to go and Mickelson made on excellent save for par on the 12th when he looked in trouble with a wayward second shot.
Stenson edged ahead again (-17) when he casually stroked home a long putt on the par-3 14th. He then sunk a monster putt on the 15th to bag his eighth birdie and stretch his lead over Mickelson to two shots (-18).
Mickelson was hugely unfortunate not to reduce the deficit to one shot on the 16th when his long eagle putt came agonisingly close to dropping in. Both players holed their birdie putts to make it a two-shot game with two holes to play.
A par apiece on the 17th meant it would be a close finish to the championship.
And another jaw-dropping putt from Stenson on the 18th saw him bag his 10th birdie of the round for a 63 and an overall total of 264.
Elsewhere, American JB Holmes, whose previous best finish in the Open was tied-14th in 2010, finished in third place thanks to a solid round of 69 (-6), which was one stroke ahead of veteran Steve Stricker.
Rory Mcllory carded an impressive 67 to finish tied for 5th with Tyrrell Hatton and Sergio Garcia.
The popular Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston had stormed to -7 by the 4th hole but a poor back nine saw him finish on -3 and in eighth place, still a superb Open performance from one of the game’s big characters.