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Stenson turns back Mickelson in duel

APTOPIX British Open Golf

TROON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Henrik Stenson held off the challenge of Phil Mickelson to win his first major at the British Open on a breathtaking final afternoon at Royal Troon on Sunday.

The Swede started the day one shot clear of Mickelson and recovered from a bogey at the first to produce a stunning major-championship record-equalling round of 63, eight under par.

His effort featured 10 birdies and took him to a 20-under total to finally win by a three-stroke margin with the lowest overall score in Open history.

Mickelson did very little wrong, with four birdies, an eagle and not a single dropped shot, but his 65 was not enough as he was left to settle for second place at 17-under.

On a surprisingly bright and calm afternoon on Scotland’s west coast, it was set up for a shoot-out between the two players and they did not disappoint.

Emphasising the gulf between them and the rest of the field was the fact that JB Holmes of the United States took third place with a six-under-par total for the weekend.

“This will take a while to sink in,’’ said Stenson, at last a major winner at the age of 40, as he clutched the trophy.

“I’m very proud of the way I played. It was a great match with Phil. It seemed like it was going to be a two-horse race, and it was all the way to the end.

“I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances and he wasn’t going to give it to me, so I had to pull away.’’

He had previously endured seven top-four finishes in majors and was the runner-up to Mickelson in the British Open at Muirfield in 2013.