The Open 2013: Phil Mickelson 'showed a lot of guts' says Jack Nicklaus

The American won in style at Muirfield

Jack Nicklaus today led the tributes to Open champion Phil Mickelson after the American claimed his first Claret Jug in stunning style at Muirfield.

Five weeks after suffering the heartache of a record sixth runners-up finish in the US Open, Mickelson won his fifth major title with a brilliant closing 66, equalling the lowest round of the week.

The 43-year-old finished three under par and the only man in red figures, three shots clear of Sweden's Henrik Stenson with overnight leader Lee Westwood a shot further back alongside compatriot Ian Poulter and Masters champion Adam Scott.

"Phil's round was incredible," 18-time major winner Nicklaus wrote on his official Twitter account. "After his bad break on 16 (where his tee shot rolled back off the green), to then get up and down showed a lot of guts. And the two great shots at 17 (to set up a birdie) ended the tournament.

"I want to offer my sincere congratulations on a championship well played."

Mickelson, who became the third successive Open champion over the age of 40 after Darren Clarke and Ernie Els, had recorded just two top-10 finishes in his previous 19 Open appearances.

But the left-hander had warmed up for Muirfield with a first individual victory in Britain the week before on the links of Castle Stuart in the Scottish Open, preparation which clearly paid off as he came from five behind on the final day.

"This is just a day and a moment that I will cherish forever. This is a really special time and as fulfilling a career accomplishment as I could ever imagine," Mickelson said. "It's probably the greatest and most difficult win of my career. It is great to be part of any Open Championship and to win at Muirfield feels amazing.

"I did enjoy links golf when I first played at the Walker Cup in 1991 at Portmarnock. It was a wonderful test but the conditions and the penalty for missed shots in the Open Championship are much more severe than we played then and it took me a while to figure it out I would say.

"It's been the last eight or nine years I've started playing it more effectively, I've started to hit the shots 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. This has been the biggest challenge for me to overcome and capture this championship, this trophy."

Mickelson's win lifted him to second in the world rankings for the first time since September 2010, albeit four points behind number one Tiger Woods.

Woods started the final round just two off the lead but was never a factor after dropping three shots in his first six holes, two of them coming when he three-putted from long range.

"I didn't really play that poorly," said Woods, whose quest for a 15th major title - and first since 2008 - will continue at next month's USPGA Championship. "I just couldn't ever get the pace of the greens - they were much slower.

"I've won 14 majors and, in that spell where I haven't won since Torrey Pines, I've been in there. I've been in probably about half the majors on the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win during that stretch. I just haven't done it yet. And hopefully it will be in a few weeks."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?