Major win for Stenson at last!

Major win for Stenson at last!

Article published: 18 July, 2016

Related article published: 18 July, 2016

With one of the most stunning performances in the history of The Open, Henrik Stenson claimed the Claret Jug for his own at Royal Troon and then declared, “This one’s for Sweden.”

It has been a long time coming for both Stenson and Sweden, but in the end the wait to win The Open was more than worthwhile. Jesper Parnevik, his countryman, had twice come close, but this time there was to be no faltering over the finishing stretch.

Anybody who witnessed Stenson’s battle with Phil Mickelson – who threw everything he had at the 40-year-old Swede – will ever forget what unfolded on the famous Ayrshire links. Stenson played 36 holes with Mickelson over the weekend and likened it to a prize fight. They traded shot for shot, blow for blow, and pulled away from the rest of the field as if they weren’t there. The winning margin was three strokes, which is something in itself, but the gap between Stenson and JB Holmes, in third, was an incredible 14.

At Royal Troon, Stenson began the day a shot ahead on 12 under, only to lose the lead by the end of the first hole, as he bogeyed and Mickelson birdied. Stenson responded by knocking in five birdies in his next seven holes to edge one clear of Mickelson who managed one birdie and eagle.

They were level again when Stenson bogeyed the 11th but he was back in front with a birdie on the 14th and went two clear for first time when he rolled in a 45-foot putt across the 15th green. A third successive birdie on the 16th was matched by Mickelson and the American then rolled in an excellent par-saving putt on the 17th to stay two adrift going down the last. But the five-time major winner left his approach to the 18th 30 feet short of the cup while Stenson fired to 15 feet and rolled in to match the 63 Mickelson opened with on Thursday.

The Swede birdied four of his final five holes to win his first major with an Open Championship record score of 20 under par at Royal Troon, setting a record-breaking score for the Championship of 264.

 “I felt like this was going to be my turn,” said Stenson, who had previously had three second place finishes and six thirds in Major Championships. “Right now I’m running on adrenalin. It makes it even more special to beat a competitor like Phil. He’s been one of the best to play the game. So to come out on top after such a fight with him over these four days makes it even more special.”

Needless to say, Stenson felt intense pride at becoming the first Swede to become Champion Golfer of the Year. “I feel very privileged to be the one to hold this trophy,” he said. “There have been many great players from my country who have tried and there have been a couple of really close calls. This is going to be massive for golf in Sweden.”

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