American Phil Mickelson came from five strokes from behind to win the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland on Sunday. Mickelson fired a closing round five-under-par 66 to hold off Sweden’s Henrik Stenson by three shots. Englishman and 54-hole leader Lee Westwood joined fellow countryman Ian Poluter and Australian Adam Scott one shot further back to round out the podium.
Phil Mickelson was hardly on the television during his first nine holes this Sunday as he began his afternoon two-over and five shots behind Lee Westwood. After turning in 34, two-under, Mickelson was right in the middle of the fight with nine holes to play. A bogey on No. 10 knocked him back to black figures but the best was yet to come. In conditions that featured wind out of the east, the opposite of prevailing, he posted four birdies in his last six holes, including the insurance policy on No. 18, Mickelson posted five-under, 66, for a total of 281 to comfortably take the clubhouse lead at three-under for the week. He would finish with the T-low round of the tournament (Zach Johnson, Thursday) and be awarded the Champion Golfer of 2013.
Mickelson has now won five major championships now completed three of the four legs of the career Grand Slam. The U.S. Open is the final piece of that puzzle. That piece of the puzzle will do nothing except put a cherry on the top of a career that now will be immortalized. Remember, the winds blew the opposite direction for the final three days. The course was burned out, baked and fast on both the fairways and greens. Extra bunkers were added to landing areas just off the fairways. Mickelson conquered all of this and took this championship for his own. Winning the Masters and PGA Championship is great; winning where the game of golf was born and under the difficult conditions presented confirms Mickelson’s seat at the table of all-time greats.
Mickelson has had his ups-and-downs for gamers this season but those of you who were patient enough to ride out the storm should be rewarded handsomely. He’s now bagged two victories (three including the Scottish Open), including a major, two runners-up, including a major and two thirds, including a WGC-Championship. That means you’ve made big money dollars. In his last two majors, he’s finished T2 and WIN. Glad I had him in the OAD at the Masters where he finished T54…The rest of the season will be an interesting ride for Lefty. He’s playing incredible golf currently and as long as he doesn’t tee it up at Greenbrier again, I don’t see him slowing down. He mentioned earlier in the week that he’s found the key to his putter. He won without hitting driver. His short-game around the greens is sharp as his tongue in post-round interviews. He’ll be a favorite at the tight Oak Hills come August.
With this victory, Mickelson collects $1,440,000, 600 FedExCup points and a chance for the career grand slam next year at Pinehurst No. 2. Only five players have done this ever in the annals of golf.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
History at Muirfield has shown us the way again. In 16 Championships, 14 winners are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. #historyisthebestteacher
Mickelson (43) joins Ernie Els (42) and Darren Clarke (42) as the last three players to win The Open Championship. Majors are about experience and big time players.
Beginning the day five shots out of the lead, Mickelson, like Els last year, fired 32 on the back nine on Sunday at The Open. Wow.
Mickelson won The Open Championship on his 20th attempt, the same amount it took Darren Clarke. They share the record for most tries before winning.
His 66 is the second-lowest winning score at The Open since Justin Leonard closed with 65 at Royal Troon in 1997.
Mickelson has now won TWO majors when winning the week before. There are only a handful of people in history that have done this. He’s now done it twice and is the only player to win the Scottish Open the week prior.
In the last 20 major championships, there have been 18 different winners. Only Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open; 2012 PGA) and Phil Mickelson (2010 Masters; 2013 Open Championship) have multiple victories.
Only 12 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 28, full-field, stroke-play events on the season. Lee Westwood adds his name to list again as he was the 54-hole leader at the 2010 Masters.
The last time Mickelson won a major, the 2010 Masters, Lee Westwood also had the 54-hole lead.
Mickelson is only the second lefty to win The Open as he joins Bob Charles (1963).
Only 12 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 27, full-field, stroke-play events on the season. Daniel Summerhays began the day with a two-shot lead and adds his name to this list.
Jordan Spieth and Scott Stallings claim the final two exemptions to The Open Championship next week. Time to find your passports, boys!
Jordan Spieth made it 11 first-time winners in 2013 after winning last week at JDC. Phil Mickelson makes it three players on TOUR with multiples wins this season. He won at Waste Management in Phoenix along with his victory today. Tiger Woods (four times) and Matt Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial) are the only other multiple winners.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42) TWICE, Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29), Austin (49) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 12 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 14 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) now have FIVE wins, on the year thanks again to Mickelson and Woody Austin both winning today.
A look at the players who finished in the top 10
Henrik Stenson: Looking to become Sweden’s first winner of a major championship, the supreme ball-striker will join Jesper Parnevik and Niclas Fasth as Swedes to be runner-up. All three of them were runners-up at The Open Championship. Stenson has had a fantastic majors campaign this year with T18 at the Masters and T21 at the U.S. Open and now hits the top 10 for the fourth time. His ball-striking was the key this week, as per usual, but he couldn’t find any putts on Sunday to keep pace with Mickelson. Stenson played three of the four rounds this week under par so that speaks to his consistency on this tough track and bodes well for the stretch run.
Ian Poulter: I was torn on him entering the week as he was struggling to find answers with the flat stick by soliciting putters on Twitter. Poulter fired the second-best round of Sunday with 67 to move into T3 four shots behind the winner. Poulter again has proven himself as a “big-game” player as his two best, stroke-play finishes this season are T21 at the U.S. Open and T3 this week. Based on this information, I’ll be taking a closer look at him at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship. The last Englishman to win The Open was Nick Faldo in 1992.
Adam Scott: After beginning his day three shots back, Scott bogeyed holes Nos. 1 and 4 and it looked like he was finished. No chance. The Aussie battled back with four birdies in five holes to tie the lead before rattling off four consecutive bogeys (Nos. 13-16) to ruin his chance of making amends for last year’s Sunday. His birdie on No. 18 moved him back onto the podium and made me a little bit happier as he was my one-and-done selection for this week. I don’t think there is a bad week to play Adam Scott. He’s wonderfully talented and his record in the last 11 majors consists of a victory, two seconds, a third and eight, top 15 finishes. Ink pen.
Lee Westwood: With 12 holes to play on Sunday, Westwood sat at three-under and was holing everything in sight as he tried to capture his first major. He’s now started 61 major championships and he has yet to find the winner’s circle. I know I don’t have to tell gamers that but do remember he’s now finished in the top 16 in 10 of his last 14 majors. If a spot needs to be filled, majors are the place to use Westwood regardless of his drought. I like the fact that he turned to Ian Baker-Finch and Sean Foley before the week started because that tells me he’s not satisfied with just hitting the top 10. Once his ball-striking comes back to normal and if his short game remains this solid, watch out!
Hideki Matsuyama: Rob Bolton has told you about this kid for the entire season. I was smart enough to listen and I hope you were as well. Matsuyama finished T10 at the U.S. Open and T6 this week. Not bad for the first time at either event. He’s the 2013 majors version of Thorbjorn Olesen! His finish would have been one stroke better if not for his one-shot penalty on Saturday for slow play. He was one of 14 players to break par on Sunday and is the real deal. His name should be written down for now and the future, especially in big events.
Zach Johnson: He continued his 2013 trend by having his best finishes where he played his best golf in 2012 and this week wasn’t any different. Last year he finished T9 and this year his T6 included a run of 18 straight pars before making a birdie on Sunday on No. 11. He couldn’t hold it together late and suffered two bogeys coming in but his last two performances should give season-long investors hope heading into the final eight events of 2013.
Tiger Woods: Another below-average weekend in a major takes him from a chance at No. 15 to another ho-hum top 10 finish as he posted T6. We’ve seen this trend now for two years in the majors: start hot, finish quietly. It’s obvious that he’s not the player we saw dominate the game in the late 90s through the mid-2000s but I don’t think he’s washed up either. He’s also never won a major when not tied or leading entering the final round. The tough part for gamers is banking on him during these high dollar events. As Rob and I have discussed in our chats, it’s probably the prudent angle to play him at venues where he’s won comfortably and often in the pass to have the best shot to cash on him. We all will have a chance to test this theory in Akron in two weeks where he’s won seven times in his career.
Francesco Molinari: He’s now three out of six in The Open Championship and this week’s T9 is his best finish. He also had a T13 (2009) and T39 (2012) so he’s shown he should be rated once July comes around. Another very solid ball-striker, the Italian MC at the Masters, THE PLAYERS and the U.S. Open this season so this was a bit of a surprise.
Hunter Mahan: For the second straight major Mahan found himself in the final group on Sunday. For the second straight major, Mahan found himself firing 75 to finish in the top 10 (T9). The good news for gamers is that he’s playing three very solid rounds to get into position to get into position but the other side of that coin is he hasn’t broken through. I liken him to the American Justin Rose. Keep grinding it out and getting into those positions and one day it will break your way. Sean Foley’s pupils had another very solid major and Mahan is part of that group along with Woods, Westwood and Rose. His time is coming and it will be on a course where par is an excellent score. He hits plenty of fairways and greens to contend just about anywhere.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Jason Day: Concerns about his wrist bothering him were quickly dismissed as the Aussie was just six shots back on Sunday morning. His closing round 77 saw him finish T32, knocking him out of the top 10 for the first time in a major this season after posting third at the Masters and T2 at the U.S. Open. He’ll be one of the favorites at Oak Hill for the PGA unless his wrist flares up again. He’ll also be worth a look at Firestone for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as his length and slick putting skills will match up nicely with that setup.
Dustin Johnson: His streak of three consecutive top 15 performances at The Open Championship came to a halt this week as he carded 76-77 on the weekend to take him off the first page of the leaderboard after a 68-72 start. Johnson made four birdies on his opening nine holes but only made four more in the next 63. The front nine, interestingly enough, was his downfall in the final two rounds as he fired 40 and 42 on the weekend after opening with 32 on Thursday. It looks like he’s back into playing shape after a few weeks in Europe so that’s the good news for gamers who have plenty of starts holstered for him to close the season.
Justin Rose: Contrary to popular belief, Rose did tee it up after the U.S. Open and he finished T13 at the Travelers so there shouldn’t have been any red flags heading into this week. The 2013 U.S. Open champion couldn’t find the form that he had in late June this week and missed the cut by two shots after 75-77. Rose has now MC in three of his last four attempts at The Open which is baffling from a player who hits as many fairways and greens as he does. His only top 10 in 12 tries in this event was his T4 as an amateur last century. Weird.
Ernie Els: The 2012 Champion Golfer respectfully defended his title by finishing T26. His third round of 70, one-under, puts him in third place since 1963 with the most rounds under par at The Open with 49. He trails only Jack Nicklaus (59) and Nick Faldo (53) in this category. He likes links golf a lot and 40-somethings don’t do too badly around this part of the world.
Sergio Garcia: He, like Jason Day, began the day (get it?) just six shots back after his superb 68 on Saturday. Sunday found five bogeys and only one birdie as he slid down the page to finish T21. I would count up all the top 25s for Garcia in this event but I don’t have all day. He was solid but unspectacular and he’ll be on the favorites list again next year.
Graeme McDowell: He broke his streak this week of winning or MC as he finished T58. His T5 from the final group last year didn’t serve as the Adam Scott-esque inspiration that I thought it would but at least he made a cut at a major finally. Sigh. He’ll probably win the next time he tees it up. Such is fantasy golf.
Luke Donald: After two T5s and a T11 in his last four attempts at The Open, Donald was trending in the right direction heading into this week. His opening round 80 saw him dig a hole that was too deep to recover from and his round two 72 confirmed he would miss the weekend by one shot. His weakness is spraying the driver and that led this week to plenty of trips to the fescue. Muirfield won this week. He’s now 9 out of 10 this season. He’ll be just fine moving forward.