Mickelson rides birdies to victory
Updated: 2013-07-23 07:21
By Reuters in Gullane, Scotland (China Daily)
Phil Mickelson holds the Claret Jug as he celebrates with his wife Amy and children Amanda, Evan and Sophia after winning the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland on Sunday. Russell Cheyne / Reuters
Hot putter key to nailing down Open at Muirfield
Phil Mickelson reflected on the emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks after timing his run to perfection to scatter the field and win his first British Open on Sunday.
Under the radar most of the week, the 43-year-old American shot a brilliant 66 at Muirfield to secure an emotional victory just over a month after finishing runner-up at the US Open for the sixth time.
"It's a huge difference in emotions, as you can imagine," he said.
"Being so down after the US Open, to come back and use it as motivation, to use it as a springboard, it really feels amazing. It's a day that I'll always cherish, always remember."
Mickelson has learned the importance of being resilient as a golfer - a useful attribute around a concrete-hard links course like Muirfield this week.
"After losing the US Open, it could have easily gone south, where I was so deflated I had a hard time coming back," he said.
"But I looked at it and thought I was playing really good golf. I had been playing some of the best in my career. I worked a little bit harder and in a matter of a month I'm able to change entirely the way I feel."
The big left-hander did not make a concerted effort to spark himself into life.
"The wow factor just kind of happened," Mickelson, who warmed up by winning the Scottish Open last week, told a news conference.
"It wasn't like I was setting out thinking I need to make birdies or I was trying to force birdies. I was just trying to hit good shots. And I made a bunch of putts today."
Mickelson, who started the day at two over, birdied the fifth, ninth, 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th holes and had just one bogey on his card at the 10th.
He holed a 10-footer on the final green to make victory virtually certain, even though several players were still out on the course and he raised his arms in the air before hugging his long-serving caddy, Jim 'Bones' Mackay.
"We did a good job together," Mickelson said. "Bones was exceptional. This is a really special time and as fulfilling a career accomplishment as I could ever imagine."
Mickelson's British Open triumph came on his 20th attempt, having struggled earlier in his career on links courses.
"It's been the last eight or nine years I've started playing it (links golf) more effectively," he said.
"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."
He will now try to complete his set of majors by finally ending his US Open jinx.
"I think that if I'm able to win the US Open and complete the career grand slam, I think that's the sign of the complete great player," he said.
"I think there's five players that have done that (won all four). And those five players are the greats of the game. You look at them in a different light. I'm very hopeful that I will win the US Open."
The American was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce with his approach shot on the last hole and after rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt he raised both arms in the air.
"That was one of the best rounds of golf I've ever played," he said as he cradled the coveted Claret Jug in his arms.
"To play probably the best round of my career is probably the most fulfilling moment of my career because it is something I thought I would never do here."
(China Daily 07/23/2013 page24)