The first three days of the 2016 Open Championship had been dominated by two men. And Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson were once again the main attraction as the pair participated in one of the finest battles in the long history of The Open.
Before the runaway leaders got down to business, those who had played second fiddle to the pair over the past three days had their chance to jockey for position. Although it was highly unlikely any of them would make a charge for top spot, there were still plenty of places in the top ten to be fought over.
Soren Kjeldsen, Dustin Johnson and Bill Haas finished tied for ninth after the trio finished the tournament on two-under. Haas would have been eyeing up a third place finish at the start of the day, but shot a four over par to end up further down the leaderboard than he would have liked. Johnson was consistent but not spectacular throughout the tournament, while a poor day three had ended Kjeldsen’s hopes of winning.
Andrew Johnston has won plenty of fans of this week and the Englishman ended in in eighth, finishing on three-under-par. Rory McIlroy finished on four-under after a final round 67, to join Sergio Garcia and Tyrrell Hatton in joint fifth. Hatton finished the tournament as the highest ranking British player, despite being a relative unknown.
Steve Stricker will be a vice-captain for America at this year’s Ryder Cup, and he showed the youngsters a thing or two as he finished in fourth with a score of five-under-par. JB Holmes finished third after shooting a final round 69 to finish six-under-par.
But the best was saved for last as Stenson and Mickelson, two heavyweights of the game, partook in an epic battle for supremacy.
Birdie after birdie was rattled in by the pair as the lead changed hands several times. Both players looked in excellent touch, with Mickelson’s short game being as reliable as ever, while Stenson continued his excellent touch with the putter. As the final few holes approached, Stenson had a two shot lead going into the final two holes.
Although Mickelson refused to be pushed aside, Stenson kept his composure and birdied the final hole to seal a three shot victory. Mickelson shot a final round 65 to finish on 17-under-par, while Stenson went round in just 63 shots, to finish 20-under-par.
This marks the first Major Stenson has won, and the Swede will now be eyeing up further accolades. While Mickelson will be disappointed, he has shown the golfing world he isn’t finished yet and he will also have his sights set on the final Major of the year, the PGA Championship.
The 2016 Open Championship will be remembered as a classic, where a Swede and an America went all out to secure the Claret Jug. And at the end of the week, it is Stenson who is left holding the trophy, a fully deserved victory.