AFP Troon, Scotland
Phil Mickelson admitted there was not much more he could have done after being denied British Open glory by Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon on Sunday.
The American left-hander shot a final-round 65 without a single bogey to finish on 17-under for the week, but still ended up losing by three shots to an inspired Stenson.
“It’s probably the best I’ve played and not won. I think that’s probably why it’s disappointing in that I don’t have a point where I can look back and say, I should have done that or had I only done this,” Mickelson admitted.
“I played a bogey-free round of 65 on the final round of a major, usually that’s good enough to do it, and I got beat.”
Mickelson’s round featured four birdies as well as an eagle at the par-five fourth hole. It was a fourth consecutive under-par effort for him in often challenging conditions on Scotland’s west coast.
He had started with a 63 to equal the lowest ever round in a major, but Stenson repeated that feat on Sunday with 10 birdies on his way to lifting the Claret Jug.
“It’s disappointing to come in second, but I’m happy for Henrik. He’s really a great champion,” Mickelson went on.
“We’ve been friends for some time. I’ve always thought that he is one of the best ball-strikers in the game and that major championships are perfectly suited for him.
“I knew that he would ultimately come through and win. I’m happy that he did. I’m disappointed that it was at my expense.”
Mickelson had started the day one shot behind Stenson but a birdie at the first combined with a bogey for his opponent saw the two swap places.
Stenson recovered from that but the two were neck and neck before the Swede birdied the short 14th. He then produced a stunning putt for another birdie at 15 and at the long 16th Mickelson saw an eagle putt stop dead on the edge of the hole.
“I really thought that was going to go in. But it seems there have been a couple of putts like that this week. I’ve made a bunch, too, but it seems a couple of critical ones caught the lip.”
One such effort was his birdie putt at the 18th on Thursday that just refused to drop, agonisingly denying him the first ever round of 62 in a major.
Mickelson remains on five major titles, including one in The Open at Muirfield in 2013 when he beat Stenson to the trophy. But this was another near miss to add to so many that have come before — he has now been a runner-up at 11 majors.
“I played what I feel was well enough to win this championship by a number of strokes and yet I got beat by three strokes.
“You know, it’s not like I have decades left of opportunities to win majors, so each one means a lot to me.
“And I put in my best performance today. Played close to flawless golf and was beat. So it kind of goes both ways.”
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