Henrik Stenson won The Open Championship on Sunday in an epic showdown with Phil Mickelson.
With the rest of the field falling off the pace, Stenson and Mickelson went back and forth in the final round. But it was the final five holes where Stenson took off – one of the greatest stretches of golf you will ever see to close out a major – to break a tie and ultimately win by three strokes.
With both golfers tied after 13 holes, Stenson would birdie four of the five final holes, a stretch that include three incredible putts.
The first came on No. 14. This clutch putt gave Stenson a lead with four holes to play.
The biggest putt came on No. 15, where there had only been three birdies in the final round.
Stenson just missed the green and left himself 51 feet from the hole. This is a spot where most golfers would be content with a two-putt and a par. But Stenson was on fire on Sunday, so of course he went for the hole and seemed to know it was going in from the moment it left his putter.
The reactions by Stenson and Mickelson say it all. Stenson was pumped up. Mickelson could only grin.
While Stenson was seemingly making every putt on the back nine, Mickelson couldn’t seem to get the big ones to fall. His run at an eagle on No. 16 came up just short. It was a putt that was reminiscent of his putt on No. 18 in the first round that would have set the record for lowest round ever in a major.
This putt would have momentarily tied the score – Stenson would birdie a moment later – and Stenson seemed to know he had caught a break.
Stenson’s final big putt was set up by a bit of luck. Still leading by two, Stenson’s drive on No. 18 stopped about 12 inches short of going into the fairway bunker. If the ball rolls another foot or so, a playoff between the two golfers would have been a real possibility.
Instead, Stenson got onto the green in regulation for the 56th time in 72 holes – tops among all golfers in The Open – where a simple two-putt would have been enough to win. But Stenson wouldn’t need two as he drained the first putt in championship fashion to reach 20-under and win The Open by three.
What a putt!