Mickelson Wins British Open - The Missourian: Sports

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Mickelson Wins British Open

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Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013 8:49 am | Updated: 8:57 am, Mon Jul 22, 2013.

Phil Mickelson wondered if he'd ever win this venerable trophy, the one he proudly posed with on Muirfield's 18th hole as photographers snapped away and fans chanted his name.

Raised on the lush, manicured courses of America, Lefty crafted a game that required one to look toward the sky. Booming drives. Soaring iron shots. Chips and wedges that floated, then spun improbably to a stop.

Beautiful to watch — except when Mickelson was trying to win the claret jug.

Links golf is played along the ground, a version of the game he fretted about ever mastering.

"It took me a while to figure it out," Mickelson said late Sunday, another step closer to a career Grand Slam. "It's been the last eight or nine years I've started to play it more effectively. But even then, it's so different than what I grew up playing. I always wondered if I would develop the skills needed to win this championship."

No need to fret about that anymore. He's the British Open champion.

He did it with the greatest round of his life.

Heck, it was one of the greatest closing rounds by anyone in major championship history.

While crusty Muirfield took out the other contenders — Down goes Tiger Woods! Down goes Lee Westwood! Down goes Adam Scott! — Mickelson blazed to the finish with a 5-under 66, matching the lowest score of the week in the pressure cooker of a final round.

Most impressively, he saved his best shots for the end, making birdies on four of the last six holes. The only challenge left was not to celebrate while eight of his rivals were still out on the course.

When Mickelson hit two exquisite 3-woods at the par-5 17th, the ball rolling onto the green for what he knew would be, at worst, a two-putt birdie, the championship was his to lose. Not that he hasn't pulled defeat from the jaws of victory before — most infamously in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. So there is still a bit of trepidation among the Phil-natics when he strolled to the 18th tee.

This time, he was right on the mark.

He drilled a hybrid down the middle, then ripped a 6-iron perilously close to the edge of the left bunker, the ball kicking right just as he intended. It rolled to a stop 10 feet behind the flag, and he rolled in the last of his birdies even though he didn't need it.

Mickelson thrust his arms in the air and let out a yell. His caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, began sobbing. Just off the green, his wife Amy and their three children waited to dole out some hugs.

"He works real hard and he wants it," Mackay said, explaining why the tears came so easily. "He really, really wants it."

Mickelson is 43 years old now, closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he still has a passion for the game and a desire to tie up some of the loose ends. This was one of them, something to add to his three Masters wins and a PGA Championship. Only 13 golfers have won more major titles; only five of those have won all four legs of the Grand Slam.

The last one eluding Mickelson is the U.S. Open, a championship where he's been the runner-up six times — most recently last month at Merion.

"He's resilient," Mackay said. "He looks forward."

Most certainly, Mickelson hasn't given up on adding that other Open to his resume. No matter what, he'll go down as one of golf's greatest players.

"The guy's done a lot," his caddie said. "He's done a lot of really cool things on the big stage."

Mickelson began the final round at Muirfield with a lot of ground to make up. He trailed Westwood by five shots, the 40-year-old Englishman never in a better position to pick up his first major. Woods was two shots behind, eager to end the longest major drought of his career. Masters champion Scott was also in the mix, as well as Hunter Mahan.

Westwood managed only one birdie all day, his strong putting touch finally undone by a bunch of errant shots. Woods was happy with the way he hit the ball, but never figured out Muirfield's slick greens, which he insisted got slower as the week went on. Scott held the outright lead on the back nine for the second Open in a row, but was doomed again by four straight bogeys.

"I let a great chance slip," Scott said. "Had I played a little more solid in the middle of that back nine, I could've had a chance coming in."

But this didn't feel like Lytham, where Scott threw away an almost-certain victory on the last four holes and eventual winner Ernie Els was almost apologetic. Mickelson earned this title.

He described it as "probably the best round of my career," complete with "some of the best shots that I've ever hit," and threw in that he "certainly putted better than I've ever putted."

Not a bad combination.

Playing five groups from the end, Mickelson crept into contention on the front side as those ahead of him began to falter. He had a couple of two-putt birdies on the par 5s, made par on everything else, and went to the back side even for the tournament — a score he felt might be good enough to win.

A bogey at the 10th, where Mickelson hit his second shot into a bunker and couldn't get up-and-down, briefly halted his momentum. But the best shots were still to come.

At the par-3 13th, Mickelson knocked a 5-iron to 8 feet and rolled in the putt. At the next hole, a 9-iron curled up 18 feet from the flag and he made that. A par save at the 16th — after the tee shot rolled back off the front of the green — was crucial. When Mickelson went to the tee box at the 17th, he was tied for the lead. By the time he got to the green, 40 feet away after two swings of the 3-wood, the lead was all his.

"I believe this is the first year we've had electronic scoreboards here at the British Open, and I was able to see one right there on the 17th green," he said with a grin.

Mickelson lagged his putt right up next to the hole and tapped in for another birdie. The lead was two shots.

By the time he rolled in that last birdie, the engraver was already etching Mickelson's name on the claret jug, even though the last four groups still had to finish.

The only possible challenger, Westwood, needed an eagle at the 17th just to have a chance. But he was done when his second shot sailed off into knee-high rough.

By then, Mickelson was accepting hugs and signing autographs. He'd already signed his card for a 3-under 281 — the only player to finish below par.

Henrik Stenson shot 70 and took the runner-up award at 284. Ian Poulter shot an early 67 and thought he might have a chance at 285. Instead, he wound up tied with Scott (72) and Westwood (75).

Woods was among those another shot back after a 74, his major drought still intact. The last of his 14 championships came at the 2008 U.S. Open; 21 majors have passed since then without him pulling any closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.

"I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing," Woods insisted. "I just never got the speed (of the greens) after the first day."

Mickelson was reluctant to let go of the claret jug now that it's finally in his grasp.

Not to worry.

It's his for a whole year.

"This is probably the most fulfilling moment of my career," Mickelson told the fans. "I'm very proud to be your champion."

/

Area Scoreboard

Area Sports Schedule

American Legion Baseball

Ninth District Senior Legion Tournament

Thursday, July 17

At Westhoff Park

G1 (1) West 11, (8) Pacific 1

G2 (4) St. Charles 17, (5) Elsberry 2

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G3 (3) Washington 4, (6) Wentzville 0

G4 (2) Daniel Boone 8, (7) St. Peters 2

Friday, July 18

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G5 Elsberry 8, Pacific 3

G6 St. Peters 9, Wentzville 1

At Westhoff Park

G7 St. Charles 4, West 1

G8 Daniel Boone 7, Washington 4

Saturday, July 19

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G9 Washington 9, Elsberry 4

G10 West 9, St. Peters 6

G12 West 14, Washington 1

At Westhoff Park

G11 St. Charles def. Daniel Boone (fft)

Sunday, July 20

Rest at Westhoff Park

G13 Championship — West 2, St. Charles 1 (13 innings)

Monday, July 21

G14 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 13, West 11

Zone 1 Senior Legion Tournament

At Lindenwood University, St. Charles

Thursday, July 24

G1 West 13, Daniel Boone Post 262 8

G2 Jefferson City Post 5 11, Hannibal Post 55 2

Friday, July 25

G3 West 11, St. Charles Post 312 1

G4 Daniel Boone 10, Hannibal 2

Saturday, July 26

G5 Jefferson City 9, West 2

G6 St. Charles 11, Daniel Boone 0

G7 West 6, St. Charles 2

Sunday, July 27

G8 Championship — West 11, Jefferson City 0

G9 If-Needed Game — Jefferson City 14, West 12

Jefferson City advances to state tournament in Sedalia.

Ninth District Junior Legion Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Union High School

G1 (1) Elsberry 3, (8) New Haven 0

At Ronsick Field

G4 (3) Washington 7, (6) Wentzville 1

G4 (2) Union 8, (7) Hannibal 1

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G2 (5) St. Peters 8, (4) St. Charles 6

Wednesday, July 9

At New Haven

G5 Wentzville 4, New Haven 0

G6 St. Charles 8, Hannibal 7 (9 innings)

At Ronsick Field

G7 St. Peters 5, Elsberry 2

G8 Washington 2, Union 1

Remainder at Ronsick Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 Union 7, Wentzville 1

G10 Elsberry 3, St. Charles 2

Friday, July 11

G11 Washington 12, St. Peters 11 (10 innings)

G12 Elsberry 6, Union 3

Saturday, July 12

G13 Elsberry 4, St. Peters 3

G14 Championship — Washington 3, Elsberry 1

Washington wins district, to host Zone 1 Tournament at Borgia. Schedule below.

Junior Legion Zone 1 Tournament

At Borgia

Thursday, June 17

G1 Elsberry Post 226 10, Chillicothe Post 25 2

Friday, June 18

G2 Washington Post 218 5, Elsberry 1

G3 Chillicothe 5, Elsberry 4

Saturday, June 19

G4 Championship — Washington 16, Chillicothe 0 (5 innings)

Washington advances to State Tournament in Jackson.

Junior Legion State Tournament

At Jackson

Thursday, July 24

G1 Jackson 3, Springfield Glendale 2

G2 Eureka 7, Sedalia 0

Friday, June 25

G3 Jackson 8, Washington 3

G4 Springfield Glendale 8, Sedalia 3

G5 Jackson 4, Eureka 2

G6 Washington 8, Springfield Glendale 0

Saturday, June 26

G7 Eureka 11, Washington 10 (9 innings)

G8 Championship — Jackson 7, Eureka 6

Jackson advances to Regional Tournament in Leavenworth, Kan.

Sunday, June 27

G9 If-Needed Game — G8 winner vs. G8 loser, 1 p.m.

Freshman Legion Ninth District Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Elsberry Legion Field

G1 (1) St. Charles 7, (8) St. Peters 0

G2 (4) Elsberry-Winfield 4, (5) Wentzville 3

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G3 (3) Hannibal 3, (6) Warrenton 2

G4 (2) Washington 10, (7) West 1

Wednesday, July 9

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G5 St. Peters 17, Warrenton 6

G6 Wentzville 5, West 4

At Elsberry Legion Field

G7 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 2

G8 Washington 3, Hannibal 0

Remainder at Elsberry Legion Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 St. Peters 11, Hannibal 9

G10 Elsberry-Winfield 13, Wentzville 4

Friday, July 11

G12 Elsberry-Winfield 8, St. Peters 3

G11 Washington 6, St. Charles 0, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 12

G13 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 1

G14 Championship — St. Charles 5, Washington 2

Sunday, July 13

G15 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 2, Washington 0

Missouri Freshman

Legion State Tournament

At Rotary Recreational

Complex - Ronsick Field

Wednesday, July 16

G1 Creve Coeur Post 397 16, St. Robert Post 331 2

G2 Ste. Genevieve Post 150 4, St. Charles Post 312 0

G3 Jackson Post 158 1, vs. Springfield Glendale Merchants 0

G4 Washington Post 218 9, Eureka Post 177 4

Thursday, July 17

G5 Springfield Glendale 11, St. Robert 1 (St. Robert eliminated)

G6 St. Charles 10, Eureka 2 (Eureka eliminated)

G7 Ste. Genevieve 4, Creve Coeur 2

G8 Washington 12, Jackson 10

Friday, July 18

G9 Jackson 12, Springfield Glendale 0 (Springfield Glendale eliminated)

G10 Creve Coeur 8, St. Charles 3 (St. Charles eliminated)

G11 Ste. Genevieve 3, Washington 2

G12 Creve Coeur 11, Jackson 7 (Jackson eliminated)

Saturday, July 19

G13 Washington 8, Creve Coeur 3 (Creve Coeur eliminated)

G14 Championship—Washington 5, Ste. Genevieve 2

Sunday, July 20

G15 Championship Game 2—Washington 3, Ste. Genevieve 0

Great Midwest Football League

July 19

Missouri Cyclones 34, Illinois Justice 0

Swim Team Schedules

Washington Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Oaks Landing    Washington 192-100

6-16    Westglen    Washington 259-206

6-23    at Fox Creek    Washington 311-225

6-30    at Chadwick    Chadwick 264-258

7-7    Cherry Hills    Washington 291-140

7-11 at Division Meet, Westminster Christian First

Pacific Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    Lake of the Woods    LOtW 176-130

6-16    at Union    Union 289-220

6-23    Bridle Creek    Pacific 371-124

6-30    at Arbor Oaks    Pacific 282-241

7-7    at Indian Hills    Cancelled, weather

7-12    Division Meet    First

Union Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Arbor Oaks    Union 180-120

6-16    Pacific    Union 289-220

6-23    at Lake of the Woods    LoTW 312-201

6-30    Indian Hills    Union 322-275

7-7    Bridle Creek    PPD

7-12    at Division Meet, Pacific    Third

Pacific Diving Team

Date    Opponent    Time

6-14    at MAC West    MAC West 40-30

6-21    at Lindgate    Lindgate

6-28    at Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-13    at Championships    8 a.m.

*Indicates League Games

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