Upon leaving the Marine Hotel in North Berwick on Sunday, Phil Mickelson announced to his wife Amy that he was going out to “bring home the Claret Jug”.
No matter that the American started the day five strokes behind Lee Westwood, he was as good as his word - finally earning the Champion Golfer of the Year crown at Muirfield.
It was a typically daring late charge of four birdies in the last six holes that made Mickelson only the second left-hander to win The Open, 50 years exactly after Sir Bob Charles.
For much of the day the attention was on the brief fireworks of Ian Poulter, Adam Scott’s surge with four birdies in five holes, followed by four bogeys in a row, Westwood’s woes in the bunkers as his lead slipped away and Henrik Stenson’s quest for a first Swedish major. Suddenly the rest were forgotten as Mickelson swept through the field.
He birdied the 13th and 14th holes, hit two mighty 3-woods to the par-5 17th and two-putted, and then closed with a glorious 3 at the 18th accompanied by a thunderous ovation.
He was home in 32 for a 66, the lowest closing round by a Champion at Muirfield and matching Zach Johnson from the opening round as the best score of the week.
He won by three from Stenson and was the only player to finish under par on the sun-baked Muirfield course.
Only a month earlier Mickelson had suffered a heart-breaking runner-up finish for the sixth time at the US Open but the week previously he had overcome a career of indifferent links form to win the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
Now he had won The Open on his 20th appearance, a distinction he shared with Darren Clarke.
“This is a day and a moment I will cherish forever,” said Mickelson. “I played arguably the best round of my career.”