July 21, 2013

Mickelson captures British Open with dazzling final round

The Associated Press

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Phil Mickelson of the United States holds up the Claret Jug trophy after winning the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Sunday July 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

AP

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Phil Mickelson celebrates after his final putt on the 18th green during the final round of the British Open Sunday at Muirfield, Scotland. Mickelson's birdie was his fourth on the final six holes to finish the round with a 5-under 66.

AP

Scott, trying to join an exclusive list of players who have won a green jacket and a claret jug in the same year, made a remarkable recovery from the dunes right of the par-3 13th hole, only to miss the 7-foot par putt. He took three putts for bogeys on the next two holes – from long range on the 14th, and from 20 feet on the 15th – and found a bunker on the next.

Westwood started to lose his grip on the jug with bogeys on the seventh and eighth, and failing to birdie the downwind, par-5 ninth. Presented with birdie chances early on the back nine, his putting stroke began to look tentative. He hit into the dunes on the right side of the 13th to make bogey and never caught up.

Westwood and Scott tied for third with Ian Poulter, who played a four-hole stretch in 5 under around the turn and closed with a 67. At 1-over 285, he canceled a flight home in case of a playoff. Moments later, with Mickelson pulling away, the outcome was clear.

Making this even sweeter for Mickelson is that just one month ago he lost out on yet another chance to win the U.S. Open, the missing link of a career Grand Slam. Mickelson twice made bogey with wedge in his hand on the back nine at Merion and had his record sixth runner-up finish.

Mickelson joins an elite list of winners at Muirfield, which is considered the fairest of the links on the British Open rotation. All but two of the Open champions at Muirfield are in the World Hall of Fame. Mickelson is the only winner who already has been inducted.

It was the 43rd win of his PGA Tour career. The guy who once couldn't win the big one now has five majors in the last nine years. This one returns him to No. 2 in the world ranking for the first time in nearly three years.

Woods, meanwhile, now has gone 17 majors without winning, and that pursuit of Jack Nicklaus and his benchmark of 18 majors – Woods is stuck on 14 – doesn't look any closer. He three-putted twice in four holes and looked like just another contender on this Sunday.

He attributed his round to not getting the right pace on the greens, which he said were progressively slower.

"I felt like I was really playing well today, actually the whole week, " said Woods, who has not broken 70 in the final round of his last seven majors. "I really hit so many good shots and really had control of my ball this week. As I said, it was just trying to get the speed, and I just didn't get it."

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