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History of The Open

Phil Mickelson


Five of the Best

Phil Mickelson during The 145th Open at Royal Troon in 2016

Few golfers can boast a highlight reel as extensive as Phil Mickelson, the Champion Golfer of the Year at Muirfield in 2013.

Renowned as one of the game’s great entertainers, Mickelson has delighted crowds around the world for more than three decades with his flamboyant shot-making.

To mark his 50th birthday this week, here are five of his best shots at The Open.

Mickelson’s charge to victory in The 142nd Open was triggered by a sublime tee shot at Muirfield’s 13th hole in the final round.

Standing at one over for the tournament and feeling birdies were likely to be hard to come by down the closing stretch, Mickelson had a level-par target in mind and boosted his chances of reaching it with a sweetly struck 5-iron to around 10 feet.

What followed surely exceeded even his own expectations. After draining his putt for a birdie two, he picked up further shots at the 14th, 17th and 18th to complete a round of 66. An even-par aggregate would have earned him a play-off; at three under, Mickelson was ultimately a comfortable winner.

Four years ago, Mickelson and Henrik Stenson delivered a battle for the ages at Royal Troon, as both men surged clear of the field and traded birdies in a dramatic final round.

Stenson ultimately prevailed courtesy of a sensational 63, but Mickelson’s own 65 was nevertheless hugely impressive and he set the tone for a thrilling Sunday with a delightful approach to the opening hole, which set up a tap-in birdie.

In 2004, Mickelson came close to victory at The Open for the first time, finishing one shot outside a play-off at Royal Troon.

The highlight of his final-round 68 was a glorious chip-in for eagle at the par-5 fourth, typical of his enduring brilliance with a wedge in hand.

By the time he reached the penultimate hole of the Championship at Muirfield in 2013, Mickelson knew he was effectively in charge of his own destiny.

After finding the fairway with his tee shot at the par-5 17th, he had little margin for error as he lined up a 3-wood into a cross wind.

Under immense pressure, Mickelson pulled off one of the most crucial shots of his career, finding the heart of the green to set up a two-putt birdie that kept him firmly on course for victory.

The enduring memory of The Open in 2016 will clearly be Stenson and Mickelson’s final-round duel.

However, both men produced plenty of outstanding golf earlier in the week at Troon.

After coming agonisingly close to a 62 in the opening round, as his putt for birdie on 18 somehow stayed above the hole, Mickelson pulled further clear of the field early on Friday and almost managed a memorable hole-in-one at the Postage Stamp, Troon’s iconic eighth hole.

A glorious wedge saw his ball bounce up to around 12 feet past the hole before zipping back to within a few inches of the cup.