Sports

Stenson's major taste

Swede looking for more after spectacular breakthrough win at Royal Troon

At the age of 40, Henrik Stenson is hoping his long-awaited first Major victory at the British Open proves to be just the beginning.

Stenson had long been considered one of the best players on Tour never to have won a Major, but he put that right in the most spectacular fashion at Royal Troon on Scotland's west coast.

His Major championship record-equalling low round of 63 on Sunday, featuring 10 birdies, saw him beat American Phil Mickelson by three strokes with an overall score of 20 under par, the lowest total at The Open.

"We're only just getting started, aren't we? You never know once you open the floodgates what might happen," Stenson said, as he spoke to the media alongside the famous Claret Jug.

Forty "is the new 30", he pointed out, and there was certainly something about the week for the older guard, with Mickelson, at 46, coming so close to being the oldest Open winner in nearly 150 years.

Meanwhile, the 49-year-old American Steve Stricker finished fourth.

In contrast, the so-called "Big Four" of Dustin Johnson, 32, and twenty-somethings Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy never really challenged, even if the latter ended up in a tie for fifth.

Asked what he put that down to, Stenson replied: "The experience and the way links golf plays."

SWEDE WIN

It wasn't just Stenson's long overdue first Major victory, it was a first ever for a Swedish men's player after some painful failures in past years.

Jesper Parnevik was the last top player to come out of the Scandinavian country before Stenson, but his bogey at the last at Turnberry on the final day in 1994 cost him glory and he blew the lead on the Sunday at Troon three years later.

"Very impressive and congrats @henrikstenson, Sweden doesn't have to wait no more!!," Parnevik tweeted on Sunday.

"I feel very privileged to be the one to hold this trophy," Stenson added.

"There have been many great players from my country who have tried in past years and decades and there have been a couple of really close calls. Jesper, in particular, twice.

"He sent me a message, 'Go out and finish what I didn't manage to finish', and I'm really proud to have done that, and it's going to be massive for golf in Sweden with this win."

Stenson cannot relax for long.

The final Major of the season, the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey, begins earlier than usual this year, starting on July 28.

That is because of the Olympics in Rio in August. And unlike the "Big Four" and numerous other leading golfers who have withdrawn citing concerns about the Zika virus, Stenson will be at the Games.

"I'm just happy to be part of it. It's going to be quite an experience," he said.

"I hope I can perform well and, hopefully, get one of the medals and, hopefully, the best one to bring home.

"It would be pretty cool to have that next to some of the other nice trophies I've managed to win."

- AFP.


Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Stenson just played better. 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.

— Jack Nicklaus hailing the final-round battle for the Open Championship as even better than the famous “Duel in the Sun”.

FINAL SCORES

264: Henrik Stenson 68-65-68-63

267: Phil Mickelson 63-69-70-65.

278: J B Holmes 70-70-69-69.

279: Steve Stricker 67-75-68-69.

280: Rory McIlroy 69-71-73-67, Sergio Garcia 68-70-73-69, Tyrrell Hatton 70-71-71-68.

281: Andrew Johnston 69-69-70-73

282: Soren Kjeldsen 67-68-75-72, Dustin Johnson 71-69-72-70, Bill Haas 68-70-69-75.

golfUncategorisedbritish openbritish openROYAL TROON