Henrik Stenson will never forget the 145th Open Championship. And if you were watching the early morning coverage of The Iceman and Lefty trading haymakers, you probably won’t forget it anytime soon, either.
After 3 rounds of mesmerizing golf, the field was split, with Stenson and Mickelson having opened 6- and 5-shot leads (respectively) after 54 holes. And it didn’t take long for us to confirm the winner was going to come from the final pairing.
Mickelson, the 5-time major champion, teed off Sunday one shot back of Stenson, but before he’d put his tee peg in the ground at the second, he held a one-shot lead. Would this just be another close call for the Swede?
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 17, 2016
No. No, it wouldn’t. A bounceback birdie on the second hole drew the pair even, and with that, the two-horse race was fully underway.
Trading birdies left and right, and hitting clutch shot after clutch shot, the two Callaway representatives were both fully in the zone. Who would be the first to pull away?
It would be Stenson’s incredible string of birdies (Holes 2, 3 and 4) that would catapult him ahead. Or so he thought. Mickelson’s eagle on the 4th hole evened things back up, and energized the crowd. Whoever was going to win wasn’t going to have it handed to him, that was for sure.
Both players turned in 32, meaning Stenson’s original 1-stroke lead was in tact. The fireworks continued through to 11, when an Iceman bogey opened the door for Phil once again. The players toughed it out through the most difficult section of the course before Stenson struck again, birdieing the 14th and 15th and opening a two-shot lead.
Phil struck back with a birdie at 16, only to have it nullified by a matching effort from Henrik, whose putter was arguably in the best form it’s arguably ever been in.
Approaching the 18th tee, Stenson held a two-shot lead, though deep bunkers lurked all over the home hole’s fairway. His answer? A 311-yard 3-wood shot placed just short of a pot bunker precariously located along the right side of the fairway. He’d then find the heart of the green with his approach, making it all but impossible for Lefty to catch him.
Stenson went ahead and made the birdie putt, proving once and for all, when it’s your time, it’s your time.
Four day best ball score between Phil and Henrik at Royal Troon?
61-62-64-59 😳 pic.twitter.com/jGzeUMPIUH
— Callaway Golf (@CallawayGolf) July 18, 2016
Stenson and Mickelson’s play yesterday drew immediate comparisons to the 1977 famed Duel in the Sun between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry. However, even the GOAT Jack Nicklaus noted that this was even better.
Nicklaus said on his Facebook page:
I was fortunate to watch every second of today’s final round of the Open Championship, and I thought it was fantastic. 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. Phil certainly has nothing to be ashamed of because he played wonderfully. Henrik played well from beginning to end. He drove the ball well; his iron game was great; his short game was wonderful; and his putting was great. Henrik was simply terrific. To win your first major championship is something special in and of itself, but to do it in the fashion Henrik did it in, makes for something very special and incredibly memorable. I’m proud of and happy for Henrik. Some in the media have already tried to compare today’s final round to 1977 at Turnberry, with Tom Watson and me in what they called the “duel in the sun.” I thought we played great and had a wonderful match. On that day, Tom got me, 65-66. Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better. What a great match today.
Stenson carded a final round 63, which included 10 birdies, to win his first career major championship. He was the only player to shoot four consecutive rounds in the 60’s at Royal Troon, and his 8-under Sunday effort matches Johnny Miller’s record as the lowest major final round ever.
Proudest moment of my career, huge thanks to everyone for your support. A dream come true! H pic.twitter.com/jyVNh2Wmf2
— Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) July 18, 2016
A few other stats:
Days after Phil Mickelson became the 27th player to shoot a 63 in a major, Henrik Stenson took a one-shot lead and posted 10 birdies to close the Championship with his own 63. It’s worth noting, Stenson’s final round score included two bogeys! He is just the second player to post a 63 in the final round and go on to win (Johnny Miller, 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont).
— Callaway Golf (@CallawayGolf) July 17, 2016
Stenson’s 20-under-par 264 is the lowest winning total in relation to par since 1963 (previous low: 19-under-par, Tiger Woods, St. Andrews, 2000). It was also the lowest winning total score in The Open Championship since 1946 (previous low: 267, Greg Norman, 1993, Royal St. George’s), and is the lowest winning score at Royal Troon (previous low: 272, Justin Leonard, 1997). Stenson now possesses the lowest final round by a champion ever in the long and storied history The Open Championship. He broke Greg Norman’s record of 64 at Royal St. George’s set in 1993.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 17, 2016
Stenson said after the round:
“I felt like this was going to be my turn. It’s not something you want to run around and shout, but I felt like this was going to be my turn. I knew I was going to have to battle back if it wasn’t, but I think that was the extra self-belief that made me go all the way this week.” He is the first player from Sweden to ever win a major championship and it came in his 42nd major start.
No time to celebrate.
The Swede is well liked among his piers, and with good reason. Less than 24 hours after winning the Claret Jug, Stenson had flown to Switzerland to help out Sergio Garcia’s foundation.
The morning after the night before…https://t.co/vMcVL9ChtX
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 18, 2016
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 18, 2016
Here is what Henrik Stenson used to win the 2016 Open Championship.
Henrik Stenson WITB – The Open Championship
XR 16 Driver (9˚) – Oban Kiyoshi Tour 60x Shaft
Diablo Octane Tour Fairway Wood (13˚) – Grafalloy Blue X Shaft
Legacy Black Irons (2-PW) – Nippon Modus 120X Shafts
MD3 Milled Wedges (52˚, 58˚) – Nippon Modus 120X Shafts
Non-Callaway Golf Ball
Odyssey White Hot XG #7H Putter
His driver has a 45″ shaft, and according to Callaway Tour Reps, it has a shade of fade bias in the head and is set to the Standard loft adjustability.
His fairway wood is a 2011 Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood. Hard to find these days, but you may get lucky in our pre-owned section at Golfsmith.
His Legacy Black Irons have been a mainstay in his bag. He likes forgiveness and wide soles in his irons as he likes to feel the bounce when the iron head interacts with the turf, and he gets that with these irons.
His White Hot XG #7H Putter is cut to 34 1/4″ with 3.25˚ of loft, and has a double bend fluted shaft with full shaft offset. It’s been his gamer putter on Tour for some time, and he used it to roll in the biggest putts of his career on Sunday.