After all the focus on Westwood and Woods, after seeing different names go up and down the leaderboard on the first three days, we’re reminded again that Opens are not really written until round 4 and amazingly to many, it’s Phil Mickelson who comes away with the Claret Jug, the one major everyone thought he could never really win.
Amazingly because here at Muirfield it’s Phil Mickelson who was out of the spotlight, it’s Phil Mickelson who went quietly about his business before turning it on down the stretch, and it’s Phil Mickelson who looked the most calm and made the most crucial putts.
Compare that to Merion where even before the tournament the focus was on Phil, with his red-eye overnight flight and 4:30 AM arrival Thursday for the US Open. After starting with a 67 it was Phil who was the center of attention for all four rounds and the weight of all that pressure clearly showed in round 4.
Yes the Scottish Open victory for Mickelson was a nice consolation prize but I doubt many thought that he would pull off the Scottish Double. To do so in such remarkable fashion, with a closing 66 that has to rank with the greatest Open final rounds ever, makes it that much more special and surely Muirfield 2013 must go down as Phil Mickelson’s greatest victory.
Even the hot sunny Scottish summer that was prewritten for this tournament was erased on Sunday, early in the day the cold haar began forming out in the North Sea and the Firth of Forth and things cooled down considerably. Perhaps they slowed down the links as well, just enough to put Mickelson in his comfort zone.
For Tiger Woods, the inner questioning must be growing louder and louder. We’re used to seeing Woods’ name at the top of a major-championship leaderboard on the weekend and when he took the lead by himself on Saturday surely we thought it was now his for the taking. And though we’re getting used to seeing Woods not be able to finish a major on the weekend, deep down we’re really not used to it. Muirfield is another opportunity gone in his quest to catch the great Nicklaus.
Adam Scott had the lead by himself on the back nine and for awhile it looked like his day of redemption after last year’s collapse. But with a Green Jacket in the closet it’s hard to imagine that Muirfield will go down too painfully for him. Henrik Stenson also had the lead yet he was still invisible out there.
Lee Westwood woke up Sunday morning thinking this was “it”, his best chance to win, but though he got sidetracked by poor club selections beginning on 7 he likely won’t rue the result as much as one might have thought going into the day. He, like countryman Ian Poulter who made a resounding charge before fading, along with everyone else, simply lost to an epic round of golf. It’s Phil Mickelson who gets to take home the Claret Jug and it’s Muirfield that gets to add another of golf’s greatest to their epic list of champions. See you at Royal Liverpool in 2014!
This entry was posted on Sunday, July 21st, 2013 by Jeff Flynn at 4:55 pm and is filed under 2013 Open Muirfield