"Phil Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Henrik Stenson just played better - he played one of the greatest rounds I have ever seen". Usually that's good enough to do it - and I got beaten. He didn't shoot a single bogey in the final round, and kept up with Stenson through most of the final round. It equalled the lowest round score in major championship history and, as if there were not enough mind-boggling facts already, it was the second such score the past week, following Mickelson's own 63 on Thursday.
Mickelson was aware of the parallels with one of the game's classics. When they approached the par 3, 14th hole tied for the lead Sunday, Stenson holed an 18-footer for birdie to take the lead.
"I was fortunate to watch every second of today's final round of the Open Championship, and I thought it was fantastic", said Nicklaus. "I knew that he would ultimately come through and win".
Mickelson knew there wasn't much more he could do. "I'm happy that he did but I'm disappointed that it was at my expense".
He finished 11 strokes ahead of third-placed JB Holmes yet three behind magnificent Swede Stenson.
"I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about that", Mickelson said. Nicklaus weighed in via Facebook on what we all witnessed.
He got beat by arguably the best final round in 156 years of major championships. "What a great match today". On the 15th hole, Stenson drained an wonderful 50 foot putt for birdie to stretch out to a two shot lead going into 16, site of the a deciding factor in Stenson's win.
Stenson made his. Mickelson didn't.
The Coventry bagman said: "We had a bet about a year and a half ago that if he won a Major I'd have to give up smoking". "It makes it even more special to beat a competitor like Phil. He's been one of the best to play the game, certainly in the last 20 years".
It was more than just reward for a player who has gone through two career slumps, the last as recently as 2011 when he dropped to 230th in the world rankings.
For Stenson, it's a chance to quickly add another major to the one he waited so long to get. Early in Sunday's round he said: "it was pretty obvious that it was just us".
Phil Mickelson of the United States reacts after making parr on the 12th green during the final round of the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 17, 2016.
Stenson became only the fourth player to win the British Open with all four rounds in the 60s, joining Tiger Woods, Nick Price and Greg Norman.