Sports

Magnificent Stenson

In a stunning performance, Swede wins first Major after a memorable battle with Mickelson

In a performance for the ages, Henrik Stenson won his first Major yesterday at the age of 40 with a remarkable performance at the British Open, posting the lowest score in the history of golf's oldest Grand Slam at 20 under par.

The final-round duel with five-time Major champion Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon will be remembered for a long time, after the pair went at it like two heavyweight boxers, trading blow for blow and producing some dynamic golf to make for gripping viewing.

Stenson (above), the world No. 6, shot a brilliant closing eight-under 63 to finish on 20-under 264, three ahead of second-placed American Mickelson and becoming the first Swede to bag a Major.

He began the day one stroke clear of Mickelson, who showed he meant business at the first hole, drilling a majestic approach to tap-in range for a birdie.

Stenson, who bogeyed the opener after taking three putts from long range, bounced straight back by sinking an eight-foot birdie putt at the second.

He then went back in front at the third after rolling in a 20-footer for another birdie.

Despite winds gusting up to 40kmh, both men made further inroads on par at the long fourth, Mickelson claiming an eagle and Stenson having to settle for a birdie.

The putts continued to go in at the sixth, Mickelson coaxing in his effort from 10 feet before Stenson matched him from four feet.

Stenson restored his one-shot lead at the Postage Stamp eighth hole, rattling in an 18-footer to go 16 under before both players made birdies at the 10th.

BLOW FOR BLOW

Matching each other blow for blow as the wind started to die down and the sun broke through the clouds, Mickelson levelled matters again at the 11th after the Swede three-putted for bogey.

A stunning long putt for birdie at the 15th was the hammer blow, giving Stenson a two-shot lead.

Mickelson, at 46, seemed to run out of steam from then on and Stenson applied the screws to roar home.

The week began with much talk surrounding the Big Four, but they struggled to make any sort of impact, especially against such hot players in Stenson and Mickelson.

World No. 4 Rory McIlroy signed off a sometimes frustrating week at Troon with a flourish by shooting 67 yesterday to be the best of the world's top four, ahead of No. 2 Dustin Johnson (-2), No. 1 Jason Day (+1) and third-ranked Jordan Spieth, who ended on two over despite a final round of 68

"I felt I played okay. In the conditions I've faced this week I felt like I handled them pretty well," said Northern Irishman, McIlroy.

"I leave with my head held high and go on to Baltusrol."

The final Major the year, the US PGA Championship, will be held at Baltusrol in New Jersey beginning on July 28, an earlier start than usual because of the Rio Olympics.

Two of McIlroy's four Major wins have come at the PGA, in 2012 at Kiawah Island and at Valhalla in 2014.

- Wire Services.

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