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Ful-Philling: Mickelson Wins Open

Updated: Sunday, July 21 2013, 11:01 PM CDT

One of the greatest final rounds in a major. Two of the best shots he ever struck with a 3-wood. The third leg of the Grand Slam.

Phil Mickelson never imagined any of this happening at the British Open.

No wonder he never took his hand off the base of that silver claret jug as he talked about the best Sunday he ever had at a major. Five shots out of the lead, Mickelson blew past Tiger Woods, caught up to Lee Westwood and Masters champion Adam Scott, and won golf's oldest championship with the lowest final round in his 80 majors.

With four birdies over the last six holes, Mickelson closed with a 5-under 66 for a three-shot win over Henrik Stenson.

No longer is he mystified by links golf, and he has his name etched in that jug to prove it.

"This is such an accomplishment for me because I just never knew if I'd be able to develop the game to play links golf effectively," Mickelson said. "To play the best round arguably of my career, to putt better than I've ever putted, to shoot the round of my life ... it feels amazing to win the claret jug."

Introduced as the "champion golfer of the year," he held the oldest trophy in golf over his head to show it off to one side of the massive grandstand lining the 18th green at Muirfield, and then the other. An hour earlier, they gave the 43-year-old Mickelson the loudest ovation of the week as he walked up the final fairway.

He drained an 8-foot birdie putt and thrust his arms in the air, hugged caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay and whispered to him, "I did it." After signing for the lowest final round ever at Muirfield, Mickelson huddled with his wife and three children - back from a quick holiday to Spain - for a long embrace and waited for the others to finish.

Westwood, who started the day with a two-shot lead, fell behind for the first time all day with a bogey on the par-3 13th hole and never recovered, closing with a 75.

Scott took the outright lead with a 4-foot birdie on the 11th, and then closed as sloppily as he did last year when he threw away the Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He made four straight bogeys starting at the 13th, and a final bogey on the 18th gave him a 72. At least he has a green jacket from the Master to console him.

Woods, in his best position to win a major since the crisis in his personal life, stumbled badly on his way to a 74 and was never a serious challenger.

"We know that he goes for broke, and if that's how he was feeling and pulling it off, he's got the ability to do that," Scott said about Mickelson. "And he's gone and won an Open easily. So every credit to him."

At the end of a rough-and-tumble week along the Firth of Forth, Mickelson was the only player under par at 3-under 281. In his four other majors - three Masters and one PGA Championship - he had never started the final round more than one shot behind.

"I don't care either way how I got this trophy - I got it," Mickelson said. "And it just so happened to be with one of the best rounds of my career, which is really the way I've played my entire career. I've always tried to go out and get it. I don't want anybody to hand it to me. I want to go out and get it. And today, I did."

Westwood, whose only other 54-hole lead in a major ended with Mickelson winning the Masters, paid tribute to Lefty for what will go down as one of the great closing rounds in a major.

"When you birdie four of the last six of a round any day, that's good going," Westwood said. "With a decent breeze blowing and some tough flags out there, it's obviously a pretty good experience. When you do it in a major championship, it's an even better experience."

But this major? Phil Mickelson?

He had only contended twice in two decades at golf's oldest championship. One week after he won the Scottish Open in a playoff on the links-styled course of Castle Stuart, Mickelson was simply magical on the back nine of a brown, brittle Muirfield course that hasn't played this tough since 1966.

Tied for the lead, Mickelson smashed a 3-wood onto the green at the par-5 17th to about 25 feet for a two-putt birdie, and finished in style with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th to match the lowest score of this championship.

"Those two 3-woods were the two best shots of the week, to get it on that green," Mickelson said. "As I was walking up to the green, that was when I realized that this is very much my championship in my control. And I was getting a little emotional. I had to kind of take a second to slow down my walk and try to regain composure."

Mickelson figured a par on the 18th would be tough for anyone to catch him. When the ball dropped in the center of the cup, he raised both arms in the air to celebrate his fifth career major, tying him with the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson.

"Best round I've ever seen him play," said his caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay.

His final surge was right about the time Westwood and Scott began to fold.

Scott, trying to join an exclusive list of players who have won a green jacket and a claret jug in the same year, made a remarkable recovery from the dunes right of the par-3 13th hole, only to miss the 7-foot par putt. He took three putts for bogeys on the next two holes - from long range on the 14th, and from 20 feet on the 15th - and found a bunker on the next.

Westwood started to lose his grip on the jug with bogeys on the seventh and eighth, and failing to birdie the downwind, par-5 ninth. Presented with birdie chances early on the back nine, his putting stroke began to look tentative.

Westwood and Scott tied for third with Ian Poulter, who played a four-hole stretch in 5-under around the turn and closed with a 67. At 1-over 285, he canceled a flight home in case of a playoff. Moments later, with Mickelson pulling away, the outcome was clear.

Jack Nicklaus said on Twitter, "Phil's round was incredible. After his bad break on 16 and to then get up and down showed a lot of guts. And the two great shots at 17 ended the tournament."

Making this even sweeter for Mickelson is that just one month ago he lost out on yet another chance to win the U.S. Open, the missing link of a career Grand Slam. Mickelson twice made bogey with wedge in his hand on the back nine at Merion and had his record sixth runner-up finish.

Woods, Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen are the only players to win all four professional majors. Mickelson figured it would be the British Open that would hold him back. Now he has the jug, and he never took his hand off it during his press conference.

"I think that if I'm able to win the U.S. Open and complete the career Grand Slam, I think that that's the sign of the complete, great player," Mickelson said. "And I'm a leg away. And it's been a tough leg for me."

For now, Mickelson takes his place among an elite list of winners at Muirfield, which is considered the fairest of the links on the British Open rotation. All but two of the Open champions at Muirfield are in the World Hall of Fame. Mickelson is the only winner who already has been inducted.

It was the 43rd win of his PGA Tour career. The guy who once couldn't win the big one now has five majors in the last nine years. This one returns him to No. 2 in the world ranking for the first time in nearly three years.

Woods, meanwhile, now has gone 17 majors without winning, and that pursuit of Nicklaus and his benchmark of 18 majors - Woods is stuck on 14 - doesn't look any closer. He three-putted twice in four holes at the start of the round and looked like just another contender on this Sunday.

He attributed his poor day to not getting the right pace on the greens, which he said were progressively slower.

"I felt like I was really playing well today, actually the whole week, " said Woods, who has not broken 70 in the final round of his last seven majors. "I really hit so many good shots and really had control of my ball this week. As I said, it was just trying to get the speed, and I just didn't get it."

-AP
Ful-Philling: Mickelson Wins Open


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Scores & Schedules

November 29, 2014 08:11 GMT

Latest scores; Upcoming games

Friday's Scores

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final Chicago 109 Boston 102

Final Golden State 106 Charlotte 101

Final Dallas 106 Toronto 102

Final Milwaukee 104 Detroit 88

Final Atlanta 100 New Orleans 91

Final L-A Clippers 102 Houston 85

Final Oklahoma City 105 New York 78

Final Indiana 98 Orlando 83

Final San Antonio 112 Sacramento 104

Final Denver 122 Phoenix 97

Final Memphis 112 Portland 99

Final Minnesota 120 L-A Lakers 119

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Final N-Y Rangers 3 Philadelphia 0

Final Chicago 4 Anaheim 1

Final Washington 5 N-Y Islanders 2

Final Carolina 4 Pittsburgh 2

Final 2OT Detroit 5 New Jersey 4 (SO Detroit 1-0)

Final Buffalo 2 Montreal 1

Final Vancouver 5 Columbus 0

Final OT Boston 2 Winnipeg 1

Final Florida 3 Ottawa 2

Final OT St. Louis 4 Edmonton 3

Final OT Minnesota 5 Dallas 4

TOP-25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Final Stanford 31 ( 9) U-C-L-A 10

Final (12) Arizona 42 (13) Arizona State 35

Final (17) Missouri 21 Arkansas 14

Final OT Western Kentucky 67 (19) Marshall 66

Final Air Force 27 (21) Colorado State 24

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final ( 2) Wisconsin 69 Oklahoma 56

Final ( 5) North Carolina 75 (18) Florida 64

Final ( 8) Virginia 64 La Salle 56

Final (10) Gonzaga 73 St. John's 66

Final (11) Kansas 82 Tennessee 67

Final (16) Ohio St. 73 James Madison 56

Final (17) Miami 87 South Alabama 75

Final (20) Michigan St. 79 Marquette 68

Final (22) UCLA 88 UAB 76

Final Mississippi 75 (23) Creighton 68

Final (25) Arkansas 89 North Texas 73

TOP-25 WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final ( 1) South Carolina 67 (22) Syracuse 63

Final ( 3) UConn 85 Coll. of Charleston 24

Final (11) North Carolina 70 ( 5) Stanford 54

Final ( 8) Duke 72 Stony Brook 42

Final OT ( 9) Kentucky 92 Oklahoma 88

Final (10) Maryland 80 James Madison 64

Final (12) Louisville 102 Lafayette 61

Final (13) Baylor 99 Utah St. 43

Final (14) California 110 San Jose St. 87

Final (15) Nebraska 71 UCLA 66

Final Arkansas 77 (17) Iowa 67

Final (21) Rutgers 60 Colgate 44

Saturday's Schedule - All Times EDT

TOP 25 FOOTBALL

No. 1 Florida State vs. Florida, 3:30 p.m.

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Auburn, 7:45 p.m.

No. 3 Oregon at Oregon State, 8 p.m.

No. 4 Mississippi State at No. 18 Mississippi, 3:30 p.m.

No. 5 Baylor vs. Texas Tech at Arlington, Texas, 3:30 p.m.

No. 7 Ohio State vs. Michigan, Noon

No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 16 Georgia Tech, Noon

No. 10 Michigan State at Penn State, 3:30 p.m.

No. 11 Kansas State vs. Kansas, 4 p.m.

No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 22 Minnesota, 3:30 p.m.

No. 23 Clemson vs. South Carolina, Noon

No. 24 Louisville vs. Kentucky, Noon

No. 25 Boise State vs. Utah State, 10:15 p.m.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

Men

No. 8 Virginia vs. Rutgers at the Barclays Center, 9:30 p.m.

No. 9 Wichita State vs. Tulsa, 3 p.m.

No. 14 VCU at Old Dominion, 2 p.m.

No. 19 Michigan vs. Nicholls State, 4 p.m.

No. 21 West Virginia vs. College of Charleston, 7:30 p.m.

No. 23 Creighton vs. Middle Tennessee at The Arena, Niceville, Fla., 6 p.m.

Women

No. 3 UConn vs. Vanderbilt at Germain Arena, Estero, Fla., 8:30 p.m.

No. 5 Stanford at Hawaii, 9:30 p.m.

No. 9 Kentucky vs. South Florida at UVI Sports & Fitness Center, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 8:15 p.m.

No. 10 Maryland vs. Washington State at Mario Morales Coliseum, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, 2:30 p.m.

No. 11 North Carolina vs. Prairie View at Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, 7 p.m.

No. 13 Baylor vs. Stetson, 1 p.m.

No. 14 California vs. Cincinnati or Creighton, 8 or 10 p.m.

No. 17 Iowa vs. Gonzaga at South Point Arena, Las Vegas, 6:30 p.m.

No. 18 DePaul vs. Northwestern, 8 p.m.

No. 19 Oregon State vs. BYU at at George Q. Cannon Activities Center, Laie, Hawaii, 6 p.m.

No. 20 Oklahoma State vs. Texas State, 3 p.m.

No. 22 Georgia at Tennessee Tech, 7 p.m.

No. 22 West Virginia vs. Fairfield, 2 p.m.

No. 25 Mississippi State at New Orleans, 3 p.m.

NBA

Dallas at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

New Orleans at Washington, 7 p.m.

Charlotte at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.

Indiana at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at Utah, 9 p.m.

Houston at Milwaukee, 9 p.m.

NHL

Buffalo at Montreal, 7 p.m.

Ottawa at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7 p.m.

Washington at Toronto, 7 p.m.

Philadelphia at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.

New Jersey at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.

St. Louis at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Columbus at Nashville, 8 p.m.

Dallas at Colorado, 9 p.m.

Calgary at Arizona, 10 p.m.

Chicago at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.

Anaheim at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

MLS PLAYOFFS

Conference Championships, Second Leg

New York at New England, 3 p.m.

Sunday

NFL

Tennessee at Houston, 1 p.m.

Oakland at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Carolina at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Washington at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Cleveland at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

San Diego at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

N.Y. Giants at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Cincinnati at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

New Orleans at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Arizona at Atlanta, 4:05 p.m.

New England at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.

Denver at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.

TOP 25 BASKETBALL

Men

No. 1 Kentucky vs. Providence, 2 p.m.

No. 4 Duke vs. Army, Noon

No. 7 Texas at No. 24 UConn, Noon

No. 11 Kansas vs. No. 20 Michigan St. at HP Field House, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 4 p.m.

No. 12 Villanova vs. Delaware, 4:30 p.m.

No. 25 Arkansas vs. Iona, 3:30 p.m.

Women

No. 2 Notre Dame vs. Kansas at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn., 1 p.m.

No. 3 UConn vs. TBA at Germain Arena, Estero, Fla., TBA

No. 4 Tennessee at No. 6 Texas, 6:30 p.m.

No. 5 Stanford vs. Prairie View at Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, 7 p.m.

No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 8 Duke, 1 p.m.

No. 11 North Carolina at Hawaii, 9:30 p.m.

No. 13 Baylor vs. Marist, 3 p.m.

No. 15 Nebraska vs. Northern Colorado, 3 p.m.

No. 16 Michigan State vs. Miami (Ohio), 2 p.m.

No. 21 Rutgers vs. Davidson, 1 p.m.

NBA

San Antonio at Boston, 1 p.m.

Chicago at Brooklyn, 3 p.m.

Golden State at Detroit, 3:30 p.m.

Memphis at Sacramento, 6 p.m.

Miami at New York, 7:30 p.m.

Orlando at Phoenix, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at Portland, 9 p.m.

Toronto at L.A. Lakers, 9:30 p.m.

NHL

Vancouver at Detroit, 2 p.m.

MLS PLAYOFFS

Conference Championships

LA Galaxy at Seattle, 9 p.m.

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Longhorn Football News

 

KEYE-TV Sports Team


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