Phil Mickelson drained the last of his six birdie putts Sunday to end his long and winding road to the British Open championship. He picked the ball out of the cup and raised his arms high while his longtime caddie, Jim Mackay, calmly replaced the flagstick on the 18th hole at Muirfield.
And then one of the driest Opens in recent memory got all wet. Mackay and Mickelson embraced, with one sobbing into the other’s shoulder. Only it wasn’t Mickelson crying but Mackay, who later explained while choking back more tears, “You work for a guy for 21 years, it’s pretty cool when you see him playing the best round of golf you’ve ever seen him play in the last round to win the British Open.”
BACK FROM THE DEAD
Mickelson, who began the day five strokes behind the 54-hole leader, Lee Westwood, birdied four of his last six holes Sunday on his way to a round of 5-under-par 66 that included one bogey, then waited for the final four twosomes to finish to see if his 3-under 281 would hold up.
Before they teed off, Mackay gave Mickelson a target to shoot for. “I said even par or 1 under could win this thing,” said Mackay, who was referring to the cumulative score. According to Mackay, Mickelson replied, “I’m going to be better than that.”
It was the only time all week they weren’t on the same page, although both were right. The second-place finisher, Henrik Stenson, finished with an even-par 284. Stenson was one stroke ahead of Ian Poulter (67), Adam Scott (72) and Westwood (75).
It took roughly an hour for Mickelson’s maiden Open.
Open victory to become official, and during most of that time he was huddled with his wife and three children outside the scoring trailer.
“There aren’t really words to describe what he means not just to Phil but to our family,” Mickelson’s wife, Amy, said as she made her way to the award presentation.
Pardoning herself, she said, “I’m going to go snuggle up with Bones now.”