The year was 2016, and the claret jug was on the line at the Royal Troon 2016. It was the 145th open championship, the venue was the Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. The club had seen a total of nine championships, but only five since it gained the royal status. Playing golf in Ayrshire is one of the biggest experiences in pro golf.
The event was a legendary one with Phil Mickelson tying the championship record with a 63, only for Henrik Stenson to close with a 63, the result was undeniably a legendary head to head final round that has since then been referred to as the best duel in golfing history.
To this day, the events of that week at Troon remain significant moments in the history of Golf.
For the players, including past open winners, their caddies and others who had the honour of witnessing such a glorious game, they certainly will not forget it in a hurry.
It began with Stenson opening 69 at Oakmont; he was 10 over par for 16 holes in the previous round before he withdrew due to the sunset which made play impossible.
In the previous year, Jordan Speith beat Stenson at the Tour Championship. Jordan made a huge putt in the 11th green during the last round, surprising everyone. So, this time, all eyes were on him.
Phil Mickelson also went up against Senson only a week prior to the championship with both players finishing T-13. Despite the unfavourable weather, Mickelson managed to shoot 66.
Mickelson had seen action at Troon in 2004, so it wasn’t his first time at the club. His first experience of the Royal Troon was a good one, so he was obviously confident.
Stenson’s swing coach, Pete Cowen revealed in an interview with golf digest that Stenson had to use a thick putter grip when he won the championship in Germany in the previous month.
Neither Henrik Stenson or Gareth Lord had seen any action at the royal Troon but they got a feel for it and gave great performances.
Henrik Stenson later revealed to Golf Digest that his mind was focused on winning the championship to honour his late friend Mike Gerbich. The two met while Stenson was living in Dubai, on Tuesday, before the final, Stenson saw a facebook post by Mike’s son that red: “Go win this one for Mike”.
Stenson wore a ribbon on his hat, easily mistaken for the one the other players wore to pay their respects for the victims of the attack in France that led to the deaths of 86 people and injured over 400 people.
On the first day, Stenson got an eagle to close the gap after his team had fallen six behind.
Phil Mickelson was poised to make history with his shot just a little bit outside the hole, however, to everyone’s surprise, he fell about four inches shot with the ball align ed with the middle of the hole. At the end of the first day, Stenson finished up on 68 with Micklesn only five better.
The second day, Stenson shot 65, much to the delight of his teammates. Mickelson shot 69, probably due to the weather, the second day was rather uneventful. However, the gap between both players reduced to one.
The third day had a spectacular recovery from Mickelson when he hit a shot into the gorse bush. He, however, swung through the gorse and got the ball just short of the green.
By the fourth day, Stenson was ahead of Mickelson by one with 63-69-70. Both players clearly outclassed everyone else despite the weather and harsh winds.
On the 18th, there was a fairway bunker 317 yards away. Stenson had the advantage of being a superior ball striker. He hit his shot to land 20 yards off the Tee with the perfect stance just 18 inches away from the sand. Mickelson hit a little Carvey tee shot to the right, a bit short of Stenson’s shot.
With Mickelson’s shot a foot short, Stenson swung his putter and got a three-stroke victory.
Mickelson admits to having never played at such high levels in the past without getting a win.
Both players pushed each other to play the very best they could and much to the thrill of fans, spectators and competitors alike.
The final match ended with Henrik Stenson emerging as the champion of the Royal Troon 2016 open.