While Tiger Woods was lurking it was Phil Mickelson who came out of nowhere to win the British Open. Just last month Mickelson suffered one of the most devastating defeats of his golf career. On his birthday he gave away the gift he wanted the most—-the U. S. Open.
On Sunday afternoon he use that defeat as a motivating tool to win where no one thought he could, the British Open at Murifield. He was trailing by 5 strokes going into the final round on what many consider the most brutal course on the pro tour. But when the dust ha cleared he had joined Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson with five majors and he is one step away from joining golf’s Mount Rushmore: Those who have completed the career grand slam.
It is only the US Open that keeps Mickelson from joining the select group of career grand slam winners: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
“If I’m able to win the US Open and complete the career grand slam, I think that that’s the sign of the complete great player,” he said. ‘And I’m a leg away and it’s been a tough leg for me.’
“There are five players that have done that and those five players are the greats of the game. You look at them with a different light.”
It was special, to, for Mickelson to win this major after failing so spectacularly at the U. S. Open last month. He twice on the back nine in the final round made bogey from 121 yards away from the green, so it had to feel great to win like this after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
“It’s a huge difference in emotions, as you can imagine,” he said.
“And being so down after the US Open, to come back and use it as motivation, to use it as a springboard, knowing that I’m playing well and to push myself a little bit extra to work harder, to come out on top, in a matter of a month to turn it around, it really feels amazing. I thought that it could go either way. You have to be resilient in this game because losing is such a big part of it and after losing the US Open, it could have easily gone south, where I was so deflated I had a hard time coming back.”
“But I looked at it and thought I was playing really good golf. I had been playing some of the best golf in my career and I didn’t want it to stop me from potential victories this year, and some potential great play. I’m glad I didn’t, because I worked a little bit harder and in a matter of a month I’m able to change entirely the way I feel.”
Many players, from Zach Johnson to Fred Couples, congratulated Mickelson.
Steve Williams, the crusty New Zealand caddie who doesn’t exactly see eye to eye with Mickelson, sought him out to shake his hand.
Williams and Mickelson had clashed when Williams worked for Woods, back when Mickelson was in Woods’ shadow, but Sunday it was Tiger who?
But on the biggest stage, Mickelson doesn’t play second fiddle to him anymore. Happy belated birthday Phil.