Nicklaus: Stenson-Mickelson showdown eclipsed 'Duel in the 'Sun'

"Mike, this one's for you".

The Swede became the first Scandinavian to win a major title on Sunday (July 17) after a fabulous three-shot victory at Royal Troon in Scotland.

A decade and a half of swing coaching and mental counselling later, the Cowen-Stenson partnership was celebrating its finest hour at the Open Championship at Royal Troon on Sunday.

The turning point in the round was when Stenson sank a 50-foot birdie putt on 15 to take a two-shot lead. We talked about 1977, the Watson-Nicklaus "Duel in the Sun" and it lasted almost 40 years. The whole process of winning a major is about staying in the moment.

"Right now I'm running on adrenaline".

Henrik Stenson's place is now in golf history with the coveted claret jug now in his possession in epic style.

Mickelson was a runner-up for the 11th time in a major, but never like this.

Carlos Nuzman, the President of both Rio 2016 and the Brazilian Olympic Committee, suggested that the lack of prize money was the real reason for the spate of exits. "But I'm also biased because I've won this one and I haven't won the other one, so I've got that working against me". As exciting as that final round was, Nicklaus said on his Facebook page that the Mickelson-Stenson duel was even better.

Phil Mickelson will not have much time to stew about what will be remembered as one of the most confounding major losses of his career. He tied Jason Day's record for lowest under par set a year ago at the PGA Championship.

Stenson, who came into the week as the sixth-ranked player in the world, finished at 20-under 264, the lowest 72-hole score ever in a major. "I felt", he said, "Like this was going to be my turn". "I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances".

The battle between Stenson and Mickelson dominated the final day and provided echoes of the legendary "Duel in the Sun", which saw Tom Watson edge out Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977 with no other player remotely close. For the week, Stenson played all eight of his nines in red numbers on a course infamous for the wind bias between the outgoing and incoming holes. If this was a better-ball match, they would have shot 59. "I know that I wanted to more of Tom in this case than Jack, but I understand how it feels". I'm happy that he did. "I'm sorry that it came at my expense".

But Mickelson hasn't won a PGA Tour event in three years, and the focus of the fans and media seemed to have shifted away from Mickelson toward players like Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. Ameircan JB Holmes was third 11 shots further back. He might very well win a few more. Beyond the score, the measure of his performance was that he putted for a birdie on every hole Sunday in a mild wind off the Irish Sea.

"The putt on 16 was huge".

They matched pars on only six of the 18 holes.

Mickelson began the day trailing Stenson by one shot.

Stenson called his win "massive" for Swedish golf.

Stenson had seven times finished in the top five of a major without managing to break through.

"I've got a lot of special memories going back to Baltusrol in '05, and probably we don't have a month to wait between majors is a good thing for me", Mickelson said. No one trusts him with a pen any more after he bought one that gives the user an electric shock.

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