TROON, Scotland — Grasping a concern of it all remained elusive, usually as perplexing to keep gait with Henrik Stenson valid to be for Phil Mickelson on an action-packed day of golf where conjunction actor deserved to travel divided though a storied hardware.
That existence became transparent for Mickelson during Royal Troon during a prize-giving rite Sunday on a 18th green, where Stenson hoisted a Claret Jug as Lefty perceived satisfaction honors, left to charity carrying played a turn of a lifetime, usually to be beaten by a improved one during a 145th Open Championship.
Instead of celebrating with family and friends as he did 3 years ago during Muirfield, Mickelson finished a trek opposite a putting immature toward a media center, still in a bit of a daze, though noticing a integrate of golf writers for whom he supposing a discerning quip: “That tiny s— finished 10 birdies!”
Named a “Duel in a Sun” since of surprising warm, balmy conditions, it stays one of golf’s all-time classics. Will Sunday’s play join it in such regard? Quite possibly. The golf was scintillating, a shot-making amazing. The few mistakes finished were by fractions, not gross errors. Mickelson twice got adult and down clearly from a Firth of Clyde to make conspicuous pars, usually to be outdone by Stenson, who finished an Ayrshire Coast’s value of putts.
“Duel Without The Sun” competence work, though roughly on cue, as a dual combatants finished transparent this contest was usually about them, a object appearance by a clouds to gleam some light on what will positively go down as one of a game’s good encounters.
“It creates it even some-more special to kick a aspirant like Phil,” pronounced Stenson, who during sixth in a universe was a highest-ranked actor though a major, carrying 5 times finished in a top-3. “He’s been one of a best to play a game, positively in a final 20 years. So to come out on tip after such a quarrel with him over these 4 days, it creates it even some-more special.”
Stenson shot 4 rounds in a 60s, finished during 264 — a lowest sum sum for any vital championship — and during 20 underneath par, that matches a record in propinquity to customary set by Jason Day during final year’s PGA Championship.
With a large 4 of Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy incompetent to get into row — McIlroy was a closest in a tie for fifth, though 16 shots behind — it was left to a integrate of aging stars, including Hall of Famer Mickelson, who would have been a fourth-oldest vital leader in story during age 46.
“It was an respect to be out there; it was cool,” pronounced Jim “Bones” Mackay, Mickelson’s long-time caddie who has been on a bag for all though one of his 42 PGA Tour victories, including all 5 majors. “But we feel bad for Phil. He had an extraordinary tournament, and to play a approach he did and somehow finish second … we feel bad for him.
“Henrik was usually magical. He was creation those putts. Three or 4 times he finished putts from outward of Phil. For a male who is famous as a world-class ball-striker, he was a best dabble in a game, during slightest today. I’m happy for him, though feel bad for Phil.”
How could we not? For all of his success, Mickelson has now finished second 11 times in vital championships. That upheld Arnold Palmer for a second-most all time to Nicklaus, who had an extraordinary 19 runner-ups to go with his 18 victories.
Despite his tiny fun to a integrate of media guys, Mickelson was clearly hurting, acknowledging that his good play was tiny solace.
He narrowly missed a vital championship record 62 Thursday when his birdie putt on a final hole lipped out; he finished usually 4 bogeys in 72 holes, roughly unheard of for Phil, including nothing in a initial and final rounds; and he went shot for shot with Stenson for many of a day, creation 4 birdies and an eagle.
And it wasn’t enough?
Mickelson has had some distressing defeats — U.S. Open waste during Merion, Winged Foot and Pinehurst come immediately to mind, as does a identical detriment to David Toms during a 2001 PGA Championship, where Mickelson’s 72-hole sum would have won any other PGA to that point.
This contest dates to 1860 and Mickelson would have won all though 3 of a prior 144 with a kind of numbers he put adult here.
“I’m not certain how I’m going to feel about that,” he said. “I’m unapproachable of a approach we played. we don’t demeanour behind on anything and contend we should have finished this differently or that. we played what we feel was good adequate to win this championship by a series of strokes and nonetheless we got kick by 3 strokes.
“It’s not like we have decades left of opportunities to win majors, so any one means a lot to me. And we put in my best opening today. Played tighten to flawless golf and was beat.
“So it kind of goes both ways. I’m happy with a approach we played, though even some-more unhappy that it wasn’t adequate since we demeanour behind and say, what do we need to do?”
Nicklaus wondered a same thing during Turnberry 39 years ago when Watson clipped him by a stroke. Years later, Jack would say: “That’s a best contest we played and lost.”
On Sunday, Phil said: “It’s substantially a best I’ve played and not won.”
Like Nicklaus, Mickelson will have to settle for being partial of a ancestral battle. Only one male was means to applaud a joys of a useful victory. And it’s a contrition another had to lose.