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."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape