Phil Mickelson is just one win away from becoming the sixth golfer in the Masters Era to complete the career grand slam.
That statement shouldn't surprise anyone. What's quite bewildering, however, is the one major that now alludes Lefty:
The U.S. Open.
Entering 2013, Mickelson had wins at The Masters and the PGA Championship. He had five second-place finishes and nine top-10s at the U.S. Open but just two top-10s at The Open Championship.
If he was ever going to cross No. 3 off his list, it was unquestionably going to be at the U.S. Open.
Then again, sports wouldn't be so irresistibly captivating if things always went according to plan. After tallying yet another second-place finish at the U.S. Open (obviously) in June, Lefty single-handedly destroyed two stereotypes with one transcendent round of golf on Sunday at Muirfield.
The first being his inability to even be competitive at The Open.
In 19 tries prior to this year, Mickelson had been cut at The Open as many times (four) as he had finished in the top 20.
Essentially, it worked like this: At the other three majors, he was consistently one of the best golfers in the world and a constant threat to win. At The Open Championship, however, he had the success of a pre-Chubbs Happy Gilmore.
Mickelson quickly put an end to that trend, turning a five-stroke deficit at the end of Saturday into an incredibly impressive three-stroke win at the end of Sunday. Here's a look at the final leaderboard:
Numbers Never Lie put into perspective the drought-killing win:
20th time's a charm for Phil Mickelson. His 20 Open Championship appearances are tied for most EVER before first win (Darren Clarke).— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) July 21, 2013
The second "Phil stereotype" broken on Sunday? The perception that he is a choke artist.
Mickelson's propensity to take some unnecessary risks can turn his game into a bit of a roller-coaster ride. There's no arguing that fact. But very few players—let alone "choke artists"—could have even dreamed up what he did on Sunday.
Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins sums it up nicely:
That 66 by Phil is one of the greatest final rounds of a major on one of the most baffling courses I've ever seen.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) July 21, 2013
Phil's 66 ranks up with the greats, including Nicklaus at Augusta in '86, Palmer at Cherry Hills, Hogan at Oakland Hills, Miller at Oakmont.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) July 21, 2013
Mickelson's 66 was the best round of the day and tied with Zach Johnson for best of the tournament.
Will Phil Mickelson complete the career grand slam?
Moreover, he closed out his day with four birdies on the last six holes, where he had struggled for most of the week, including two on 17 and 18 to clinch the championship.
The only way Lefty was walking away from Muirfield with the Claret Jug was if he took his game to another level on the back nine on Sunday, and he did exactly that.
It was a dominant performance by a consummate pro, and it will be remembered for a very long time.