British Open 2013: Biggest Surprises from This Year's Open Championship

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2013

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 21:  Phil Mickelson of the United States holds the Claret Jug after winning the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 21, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The 2013 British Open was one of the wildest tournaments in years. Muirfield proved tricky for some of golf's biggest names, resulting in some entertaining play.

With various unheralded stars stealing the spotlight, the excitement surrounding the Open Championship resulted in plenty of huge surprises.

It was a tournament of sleepers throughout. After 72 holes of major golf, all of the following players surprised the world with their excellent play and stellar finishes. Expect big things from each man moving forward.

Phil Mickelson Wins It All

American golf legend Phil Mickelson is unquestionably a big name, but he was never supposed to win a British Open. He didn’t have the overall consistency or putting game needed to tame the links beast at Muirfield, and he was always the first to admit that he struggled mightily in the Open Championship.

That myth was debunked on Sunday after Mickelson shot the greatest round of his life and won the 2013 British Open.

The left-handed star shot a five-under-par 66 on Day 4 to stun the world and win his first career Open Championship just one week after winning the Scottish Open (his first win on a links course).

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After so many years of struggling at the British Open—Lefty has finished 11th or worse or missed the cut 17 of 20 seasons he attempted the major—Mickelson finally got the tournament monkey off his back and earned his name on the Claret Jug.

Henrik Stenson Makes His Name Known

There is no debate that the way Henrik Stenson plays the game of golf could be considered safe—playing the smartest shots over the risk/reward decisions—but that makes him a serious contender whenever major tournaments arrive at difficult courses.

With Muirfield playing incredibly tough (only one player finished the tournament in negative numbers), Stenson’s calm demeanor and unwavering approach to his game allowed him to shoot even par through the week and capture the second-place trophy.

After missing almost the entire 2012 season and not factoring into the results of the Masters or U.S. Open earlier in 2013, Stenson’s stellar performance was unexpected.

The hope from the Swedish player and his supporters is that this excellent finish at Muirfield will get the momentum rolling into the PGA Championship in August.

Ian Poulter Surges on Sunday

Ian Poulter is one of the best players in the world that has never won a major in his career, but Sunday proved that he has the talent and ability to make a late surge happen on the final day of the British Open.

While Poulter was unable to get close enough to beat Mickelson, the four-under-par 67 he shot under the pressure of Sunday was amazing. Poulter ended up tied for third at one-over par for the tournament, but the composure he showed proves he is a legitimate contender.

At 37 years old, Poulter is a late bloomer on the PGA tour. After a breakout season in 2012 and an impressive performance in the clutch on Sunday at the Open Championship, the English star proved at Muirfield that he is ready for the big time.