Mickelson was the only player to finish this tournament under par, and he wound up with a three-stroke victory over Henrik Stenson, who finished even par. This was all a dramatic turn of events. Earlier in the day, Lee Westwood had a three-stroke lead.
Check out the final leaderboard, and then I'll take a look at what these results mean for three of the most notable golfers.
Mickelson Cements Status as Legend of the Game
Mickelson's standing as one of the game's greats didn't need a boost, but this title helps elevate his status into one of the true elites.
For starters, he can now join this exclusive list:
With the win today, Phil Mickelson becomes the 4th player since 1980 to win 3 different majors (Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 21, 2013
Prior to this win, Mickelson had four majors. That had him tied for 20th on the all-time list of most major wins. With five, he now is tied for 14th. That speaks to his greatness right there, but what also elevates his status is the diversity of his titles.
Three of his majors have come at the Masters, and he had another at the PGA Championship. Showing that he can win on a links course proves what a complete player Lefty has become, and that certainly wasn't always the case.
Mickelson's high-lofted approach was never well suited for links golf, but he took great pains to adjust his game so he could win this tournament, which undoubtedly was the main motivation behind this quote:
Phil: "This is probably the most fulfilling moment of my career because it's something I didn't know if I'd ever be able to do." #TheOpen— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 21, 2013
Mickelson is now just the U.S. Open away from the career Grand Slam. He still has a chance to capture the lone major that has painfully avoided him, but even if he doesn't, there is no doubting he will go down as one of the greatest to ever pick up a club.
Lee Westwood Is Colin Montgomerie
If my golf game was ever compared to Colin Montgomerie, I would be absolutely ecstatic. However, for someone as talented as Westwood, this is the last thing he wants to hear.
While Montgomerie was one of the best sticks of his generation, he was never able to win a major, and this was despite the fact he was in contention on numerous occasions. Well, Westwood has gone full monty and then some:
Lee Westwood extends his streak to 8 top-3 finishes in majors without a victory. 2nd place on that list is HOF member Colin Montgomerie (6).— PGA Tour Stats (@statsPGA) July 21, 2013
Westwood started off strong on Sunday. He was even par through six holes and had a three-stroke lead. It was all downhill from there. He played the rest of his round at four over while suffering a myriad of errors.
It's not like he doesn't know how to win. He's won 38 times from around the globe and is the former world's No. 1 player. But at 40, it is starting to look like he will never be called a major champion.
Woods Needs to Learn How to Close Out a Major
At first blush, it is ridiculous to utter this statement about 14-time major champ Tiger Woods. He will go down as one of the greatest closers in not just golf, but any sport.
However, as I'm sure you are aware, Woods hasn't been able to win a major in over five years. When he first returned from his scandal/injury, his inability to not win a major was easily attributed to his game not being up to par.
Now he is back atop the world golf rankings, but he still can't win a major. He's put himself in position—he just can't finish it off. Check out this tweet from SportsCenter:
Tiger Woods' last 6 majors: 1st and 2nd round: -11 (7 rounds under par) 3rd and 4th round: +23 (8 rounds over par)— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2013
At the British Open, Woods had every chance to seize the moment, as Mickelson did. However, he wound up with his worst round of the tournament at 74.
This sits in stark contrast to the Woods of old. Tiger obviously still has the talent to win a major. He just needs to get his head and game in the right place in the closing rounds.