Thursday 22 March 2018

Jack Nicklaus insists Henrik Stenson's final-round Open triumph over Phil Mickelson bettered his "Duel in the Sun" with Tom Watson

Sweden's Henrik Stenson and USA's Phil Mickelson after The Open Championship 2016 at Royal Troon G
Sweden's Henrik Stenson and USA's Phil Mickelson after The Open Championship 2016 at Royal Troon G

Jack Nicklaus has hailed the final-round battle for the Open Championship as even better than the famous "Duel in the Sun."

Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson evoked memories of the epic contest between Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry in 1977 as they went head to head over the final 36 holes at Royal Troon at the weekend.

A closing 63 equalled the lowest score recorded in a major and gave Stenson his first major title with a record-equalling total of 20 under par, while his 72-hole total of 264 eclipsed the previous best in any major by a shot.

Five-time major winner Mickelson, who beat Stenson to lift the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2013, had to settle for second despite a flawless 65.

"I was fortunate to watch every second of today's final round of the Open Championship and I thought it was fantastic," 18-time major champion Nicklaus wrote on Twitter.

"Phil Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Henrik Stenson just played better - he played one of the greatest rounds I have ever seen.

"Phil certainly has nothing to be ashamed of because he played wonderfully. Henrik played well from beginning to end. He drove the ball well, his iron game was great, his short game was wonderful and his putting was great. Henrik was simply terrific.

"To win your first major championship is something special in and of itself, but to do it in the fashion Henrik did it in makes for something very special and incredibly memorable. I'm proud of and happy for Henrik.

"Some in the media have already tried to compare today's final round to 1977 at Turnberry, with Tom Watson and me in what they called the "Duel in the Sun."

"I thought we played great and had a wonderful match. On that day, Tom got me, 65-66. Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better."

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