They said he couldn’t win an Open Championship. They said he didn’t know how to play links golf. They said he can’t play in wind and weather. They said he was suffering depression from losing the U.S. Open just three weeks before in heartbreaking fashion. They said he couldn’t win the Open the week after winning the Scottish Open. They said he was too old, too risky, too stubborn, too American . . . too Phil.
Copy boy! Rewrite page one immediately!
Happily, all the naysayers, talking heads, and fickle experts stood up and applauded when Phil finally lifted the Claret Jug skyward in victory at venerable old Muirfield. His closing 66 was a round for the ages, a Sunday charge that will ring throughout the decades, and forever enshrine him in the Pantheon of Great Golf Champions that have won the Open at Muirfield.
And what a way to do it! Starting five shots behind star-crossed third-round leader Lee Westwood, Phil birdied four of the last six holes, including 17 and 18 with medium-length putts that sent the fans into the stratosphere.
“This is such an accomplishment for me,” Mickelson said. “I never knew if I’d be able to develop the game and the shots to play links golf effectively. To play what is arguably the best round of my career, to putt the way I putted, to shoot the round of my life, it just feels amazing to win the Claret Jug. It may have been the best golf of my career,” he said later, and caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay agreed with him.
“I’ve never seen better,” Bonesy added. Neither have we, Bonesy. Neither have we.
This is the first year we have given an award in this category.