Henrik Stenson’s record-breaking Open triumph was all the more memorable because he achieved it by outplaying the great Phil Mickelson, the Swede said.
Stenson finished three strokes ahead of the five-times major winner in a riveting head-to-head duel, his closing eight-under-par 63 equalling the previous lowest round in a major.
Mickelson had to settle for second place despite shooting a sparkling 65 of his own.
“We both played some great golf,” Stenson told reporters. “It makes it even more special to beat a competitor like Phil… to come out on top after such a fight with him over these four days
“He’s been one of the best to play the game, certainly in the last 20 years.”
Stenson, whose winning aggregate of 264 was also a record for any of the ‘Big Four’ tournaments, said he had a sneaking feeling he was on the verge of landing his first major win.
“It’s not something you want to run around and shout but I felt like this was going to be my turn,” explained the world number six.
“That was the extra self-belief that made me go all the way this week.”
Stenson had seven times finished in the top five of a major without managing to break through.
“Right now I’m running on adrenaline but there will be some point when I’ll struggle to make it up the stairs when I get back to the house,” he smiled.
Stenson dedicated victory to his long-time friend Mike Gerbich, who died during the week.
“He was one of the real good guys,” said the 40-year-old Swede. “I’ve known him for many, many years and he was a very keen golfer and a great man.
“He’s been battling cancer for a long time and I had news on Tuesday that the end was near and unfortunately he passed away on Wednesday morning over in the U.S.
“He’s always been there as a big supporter of mine, in good days and bad days he’s always sent me messages and been out at some events. This one is dedicated to him, for sure, I felt like he was there with me this week,” added Stenson.