The perception of Phil Mickelson by PGA fans all over the globe drastically changed in just one afternoon overseas in the United Kingdom at Muirfield.
Suddenly, the good old Lefty that we all knew — the one that chronically chokes in the late and crucial stages of important tournaments and the guy that is cruelly destined to finish second in the U.S. Open instead of winning it — became Mr. Clutch.
On Sunday afternoon, Mickelson fought past particularly stubborn conditions at Muirfield to turn in a monstrous round of 66 to claim a victory in this year’s British Open. The victory serves as the fifth major victory of his career.
The memorable victory can easily be attributed to a masterful day of golf on Sunday where Mickelson carded a 66, which was the lowest round of the entire tournament. Zach Johnson was the only other golfer to match Mickelson with his 66 earlier in the tournament.
Mickelson was especially dominant on the back nine, where he amassed a 32. Along with Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy and Brandt Snedeker, this served as the best score on the back nine for the entire British Open.
The beastly round came exactly at the right time, too, as Mickelson erased a five-stroke deficit to go from long shot to tournament champion all in the course of a Sunday. Last year played out in similar fashion when Ernie Els made nearly an identical last-day surged to claim the championship victory.
When speaking to media following the victory, Mickelson attributed much of his success to spot-on putting, which let him sink birdie after birdie to compile one of the most brilliant rounds of golf anyone has ever witnessed at a major tournament.
Henrik Stenson finished in second place at Muirfield, falling three strokes behind Mickelson. The duo was followed by Lee Westwood, who came into Sunday leading the pack, Ian Poulter and Adam Scott. Those three tied for third place.
For a guy that most fans were uneasy about labeling “elite,” Mickelson no doubt cemented a legacy with his latest round and his piecing together a strong season thus far.
Westwood left out in the cold … again: He always seems to keep an upbeat attitude about it, but you have to imagine Lee Westwood is getting sick of settling for a top-5 finish at a major tournament.
Leading the pack by two strokes heading into the afternoon, this was Westwood’s tournament to lose — and that he did. Westwood had to settle for five bogeys in his final round, which was not good enough to keep pace with the surging Mickelson.
Westwood’s third-place finish signified the sixth time of his career that he finished in the top five at a major tournament.
Tiger Woods fades: Woods finished in a tie for sixth place after shooting a 74 in the final round. Woods, a three-time champ at the British Open, started his round off on the wrong foot — a bogey on No. 1. That gave way to five more during the course of the afternoon for yet another top-five, and presumably disappointing, finish for him.