Phil Mickelson had the round of his life on Sunday at Muirfield, winning the 2013 British Open by three strokes. His five-under-par 66 in the final round helped him finish as three under overall, good enough to top Henrik Stenson, who was the only other player in the field to finish the tournament at even par or better.
2013 Masters winner Adam Scott tied for third place with Englishmen Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, all of whom finished the championship with final scores of one-over par.
After years of frustrating performances, Mickelson, who had just two top-10 finishes in this tournament before 2013, finally broke through to win the Claret Jug and his fifth career major title, as noted by the PGA Tour:
Mickelson's scorching final-round 66 matches Zach Johnson for the low round of the tournament.
It's safe to say Lefty's round was far more impressive, however. On a day when Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and many other top golfers fell down the leaderboard with rounds well over par, Mickelson's brilliant round was one for the ages.
To finish off his final round in style, Lefty birdied No. 18, as noted by ESPN's SportsCenter:
Phil Mickelson is CLUTCH! He birdies 18, to post an incredible 5-under 66 in final round. Lee Westwood trails by 3 strokes. #TheOpen— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2013
Poulter put together an impressive final round of his own to move up the leaderboard in a major way (no pun intended) on Sunday.
His four-under-par round of 67 enabled him to move from 19th place up to a tie for third place by the end of the day, as noted by ESPN's Justin Ray:
In last century, worst 54-hole position by major winner is T-20th - Hale Irwin at the 1990 US Open. Ian Poulter was T-19th to start day.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 21, 2013
For Westwood, who had a one-stroke lead over the field after 54 holes at three-under par, his four-over-par round of 75 on Sunday marked another disappointing finish in a major championship.
As noted by Ray, it was his eighth third-place finish in a major, which is more than any other player in the modern era:
Lee Westwood now has 8 top-3 finishes in majors (all since 2008), most by anyone in modern era without a win. #TheOpen— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 21, 2013
Woods, like Westwood, had a terrific opportunity to win the tournament after three rounds, but he struggled on Sunday, shooting a three-over-par round of 74.
After his round, Tiger lamented his inability to make adjustments as the greens slowed down over the weekend, as noted by Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel:
And there it is. Tiger Woods: "I just never got a feel for the speed of these greens. ... They're so much slower." Easy call.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 21, 2013
And so, another major tournament goes by, and Woods is still stuck at 14 career major titles. It's been more than five years since his last win, and no matter what he says publicly, you have to believe that Tiger wants to get this monkey off his back as soon as possible.
In the end, though, the 2013 British Open was all about Mickelson.
For a man who hadn't even won a single tournament on United Kingdom soil until his breakthrough victory in the 2013 Scottish Open, Lefty's links golf fortunes have changed in a hurry.
Mickelson has five major titles now. How many will he have when he retires?
At the age of 43, Mickelson's game continues to evolve. It's not hard to envision that a few more major titles will be added to his trophy case before he retires, but for now, he'll savor his hard-earned victory.
With three of the four major championships in the rear-view mirror for the 2013 season, there is just one more left on the schedule. In less than three weeks' time, the world's best golfers will convene once again for the 2013 PGA Championship, which begins on Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Oak Hill Country Club.
Until then, cheers to Mickelson for a job well done at Muirfield.
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