“Swede Wins in Scotland”
Playing golf next to the Irish Sea, on the Firth of Clyde, can be an experience.
In 4-days on the links course at Troon, the golfers experienced all four seasons. Sunshine and low scores on Thursday. Driving rain on Friday. Winds of 25 miles an hour on Saturday. Biting cold for much of Sunday.
That, and the high grass along the fairways; the holes with 4-and 5-sand bunkers. The pot bunkers. The winds off the tee shots.
And of course, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson.
They set records, so they can be broken. Stenson, the Swede, did just that, finishing the tourney with a 20-under par score of (264). 20-under par, in that weather, on that course, with the entire field chasing you.
The Swede wound up shooting a (63) on the final day. Mickelson, who did everything but win, shot a 65-and lost. This after his electric first day round of 63, within a lip cup of an all time British Open record 62. Or as Phil called it, a 62.5 score.
But he wore his emotions on his sleeve. Still frowning about Thursday’s finishing, then disconsolate in the interview tent on Sunday.
He did not credit Stenson for much of anything, and that is a disappointment, because what Henrik did was of the proportions of Tiger Woods, back in the day.
Stenson roared out of the gate with 4-birdies in 5-holes. They he clipped off 3-more birdies on the back nine, playing as cooly as the chilly weather. He put all the pressure on Mickelson, who kept making critical shots, as he got into scramble mode, trying to rally.
And the Swedish star, who had never won a major, sealed the deal with an amazing 51-foot birdie putt late, and put an exclamation point on his week, by nailing a 20-footer on the 18th hole.
It was exciting, it was glorious, it was well earned, for someone who has never been there.
For Mickelson, sometime soon he will feel good about his four days. It’s been 63-tourneys since he won a tournament, and that too in Scotland in the 2013-Open at Murifield.
But his career is still intact. He has not lost his love to compete. He is still the gambler, still the gamer, and still the fans man.
They’re likely still partying in Stockholm and other players ‘over there’. In Scotland, they’ll be talking about this one for awhile. Here in the US, we should welcome Mickelson back home, for putting on a great show, and informing one and all, the twilight of his career, is still down road.