Phil Mickelson shot five-under par on Sunday to capture his first British Open title and fifth overall major.
Trailing Lee Westwood and others prior to the final day, Mickelson leap-frogged ahead of the pack, earning a three-under score while everyone else finished at or above par.
It took a truly impressive stretch for Lefty to emerge victorious, as highlighted by the Twitter page of ESPN SportsCenter:
•Erase 5-stroke final-round deficit. •Birdie 4 of last 6 holes. •Final round 66. Congrats Champion Golfer of the Year, Phil Mickelson.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2013
Now that the tournament is behind us, let's put Mickelson's win into perspective.
Best Round of His Life?
Mickelson needed an amazing final round of golf to have any chance at winning the Open Championship. He delivered, and as always, sports fans are now left to wonder if his most recent triumph was his best ever.
Actually, it might not be too hyperbolic to consider Sunday as the best round of Mickelson's career. After all, according to Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner, Lefty said it himself:
Champion Phil Mickelson describes his five-under final round of 66 to win the Open as: “arguably the best round of my career” #Open— Brian McNally (@McNallyMirror) July 21, 2013
While his three-under finish ranks as his worst overall score in winning a major, his sterling fourth round still stands out. Among Mickelson's majors, his 66 on Sunday rates as his second-best round at a major, behind only his 65 in the second round of the 2005 PGA Championship.
That's not taking into account Muirfield's murky conditions and the differences of storming back in the final round with everything on the line. If that wasn't the best golf Mickelson ever played, it definitely deserves recognition as a prime candidate.
Overcoming his Open Demons
Mickelson has never fared well at the British Open. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Mickelson has only produced one other top-10 finish at the event.
Phil Mickelson has struggled at The Open Championship compared to other majors. His career top 10s in each pic.twitter.com/rVg4yKQhuP— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2013
Considering how long the American has hung around, that's too large of a sample size to ignore. It's especially noteworthy since Mickelson admitted that he wondered if he'd ever succeed in Scotland.
"I didn't know if I would ever develop the game to ever win this championship." - Phil Mickelson #TheOpen— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2013
Lefty can put those worries past him now, with only the U.S. Open standing in his way of completing his quest for a career grand slam.
So Much for Failing When it Counts
Remember when Mickelson struggled to escape the label of being a choker?
It seems like eons ago, as the 43-year-old now has five major titles to his name. That's no easy feat, as just two other men join him in that club, as noted by Justin Ray of ESPN.com.
Only 3 players with 5 major wins in the last 30 years: Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 21, 2013
Mickelson use to sit trapped in the purgatory that now torments Lee Westwood. Formerly dubbed the best golfer to not win a major, Mickelson couldn't avoid the whispers that he shrinks when the moment counts.
So much for that.
Mickelson grasped the British Open by the throat and claimed it as his own on Sunday, putting on a flawless display that should sway his few lingering skeptics.
This happens all the time in sports (how's it going, LeBron James?), so it's important to document such media these mistakes so that they are not repeated regarding other winners-in-waiting.
Just because a player does not win right away does not mean he never will.