Written by Sean Meyers
Just five weeks after a crushing disappointment at the US Open, Phil Mickelson captured one of the most improbable victories of his career at the British Open. The win marks the fifth major for Mickelson, cementing his spot among the all-time greats.
Surprisingly, Mickelson played under the radar for most of the tournament, including the majority of his holes on Sunday. Lefty entered the final round five shots back of the lead, at 2 over.
While many of the leaders, including Lee Westwood, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods faltered, Mickelson surged. A birdie on the 13th hole pulled Mickelson to even par for the tournament, and thrust him into serious contention. He followed that up with another birdie on 14.
As other players struggled, Mickelson executed to perfection down the stretch. An improbable second shot on 17 led to a birdie, and Lefty capped off his incredible round with another birdie on 18, drawing a deafening roar from the crowd.
Jim Mackay, Mickelson’s long-time caddy, called it the best round he’s ever seen him play.
After squandering a final round lead at Merion in June, Mickelson displayed his mental toughness in the clutch at Muirfield. He finished as the only player under par for the tournament, and his final round 66 equaled the lowest score all week.
With 42 career PGA victories, Mickelson ranks ninth on the all-time wins list. His fifth major ties Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros and an array of other legendary golfers.
For Phil, the British Open represented the third leg of the Gland Slam of majors, as he has won the Masters on three occasions, and also captured the PGA Championship in 2005. Only five players in the history of the PGA have prevailed in all four majors.
Now, Mickelson will have that rare opportunity at the US Open next year. Ironically, that tournament has proven to be the most torturous for Mickelson, as he has finished as runner-up six times, including last month.
Although now 43, Mickelson does not seem to be slowing down at all. As the second-ranked player in the world, Mickelson now eyes the top spot, a distinction he has never held in his storied career. Furthermore, this latest victory will perhaps serve to further motivate Phil to complete the grand slam next year when the US Open returns to Pinehurst. After this weekend, it would be wise not to bet against him.