Phil Mickelson wins the Open Championship
No, that’s not a typo. Phil Mickelson, the guy who struggled with links golf more than any other player, won at Muirfield on Sunday with a final score of 3-under par.
The leaderboard on Sunday was exactly what everyone wanted to see, with big names all at the top. Mickelson started the day five back, with names like Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson and Lee Westwood all in the mix. Ian Poulter made a great early charge, posting 1-over par in the clubhouse after a round of 4-under par 67, which at certain points, looked to be good enough. Westwood, who started the day with a two shot lead, didn’t hit a fairway on the front nine, going out in 38. It would have been worse if not for a very hot putter, which seems odd given his history, but it’s what kept him alive. Adam Scott and Tiger Woods both looked great at points, but couldn’t get much done on the greens when it mattered. Mickelson’s front nine was solid, posting a 2-under par 34, but started his back nine with a bogey on 10. He rebounded quickly, with birdies on 13, 14 and 17 before heading to the 18th tee. He striped a 3-wood down the fairway and hit an approach about ten feet below the hole before stepping up and making the birdie putt to post 3-under par. He was now three shots clear of his nearest competitors, and the Open was pretty much his. When Westwood and Mahan were finished on 18, it was official. Phil Mickelson had won the Open.
- 1. Phil Mickelson -3
- 2. Henrik Stenson E
- T3. Ian Poulter +1
- T3. Lee Westwood +1
- T3. Adam Scott +1
What The Win Means For Mickelson
When he won the Scottish Open last week, I mentioned that it really didn’t mean much to Mickelson in the grand scheme of things, with the exception of being more confident with his game on a links course. Apparently, he was supremely confident based on the way he played over these four days, including this final round 66, which is one of the greatest rounds of golf that I’ve ever seen played in any tournament.
The combination of the score on an utterly confusing course with the final round major pressure looming, Mickelson pulled off something that I never thought I’d see. Six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, and only two top-10’s in 19 appearances at the Open Championship doesn’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence, but he put that thought right out the window.
He’s going to win a ton of money, and probably jump a little bit from fifth in the world rankings, but there’s more to it than that. Mickelson already has enough of those accolades, but winning the Open is something special, and he knows it. It’s his fifth major championship win, and now only needs the U.S. Open for the career grand slam.
This one hurts for Westwood, who becomes the only player to finish inside the top-3 in every major without winning one. I thought he would hang on today, but his putter couldn’t save him the whole time, which ended up killing him. Predicting the winners of golf tournaments is a fool’s errand, as proven by me every week, but on the wrong side of 40, it’s just going to get tougher for him to win one of these.
There just isn’t much to say about the way he played today, as at points, he looked every bit as good as the player we saw over the first three days, but couldn’t keep it up the whole time. He looked great in all areas, and then poor in the same ones just a few minutes later. As I’ve said in the past, this is becoming the new normal, and once everyone is used to that, we’ll all be better off. Still a great player, but not the generational talent that he once was.
- Notables to miss the cut: Marc Leishman, Bill Haas, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Nick Watney, Tom Watson, Vijay Singh, Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler, Scott Stallings, Billy Horschel, Rory McIlroy and Matteo Manassero.
- Watching Mickelson in the interview room with Tom Rinaldi really shows the kind of analytical mind he has, referencing Azinger’s trouble on 17 in 1987 and where all the trouble spots were on the course. He picked apart the course on Sunday, and it’s easy to see why.
- Really enjoyed watching Muirfield again, even though the roll the balls got did get a little crazy at times.
- ESPN did a pretty solid job covering the event here in North America, and the Ian McShane promo that they ran earlier in the coverage was one of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV. You can watch it below.