Henrik Stenson won his first Major Championship as he overcame Phil Mickelson in record-breaking fashion in a thrilling final round of The 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon.
The Swede came into round four with a one-shot advantage over his American rival but the duo were tied at the top of the leaderboard with five holes to play as they went blow-for-blow in an enthralling contest.
A birdie on the par three 14th moved Stenson ahead and when he drained a remarkable 50-foot effort on the next, the pair were separated by two shots for the first time all day.
A brilliant up-and-down followed to maintain the gap and Stenson birdied the last to finish at 20 under with a 63 and beat Mickelson by three shots.
Stenson had finished second behind Mickelson at Muirfield in 2013 but the circumstances were very different here as the pair played together in the final group on Saturday and Sunday to produce a duel of the highest quality and drama.
As well as becoming Sweden’s first Major champion, Stenson broke a host of records with the lowest total to par in Open history and the lowest ever final round by a winner.
His 63 – a total matched by Mickelson on Thursday – equalled the lowest round in Major history and his 264 aggregate score is the lowest ever in a Major Championship.
He also moved level with Robert Karlsson on 11 European Tour wins – the most ever by a Swede – and adds Major glory to his 2013 Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup titles.
“I’m delighted but it hasn’t sunk in yet.
“When you’re fighting as hard as I have done out there today and against Phil for a number of days now, it’s just relief when you’re coming off the 18th and you know it’s done.
“It was great, in a small way it makes it easier because you know he is not going to back away, I know I need to play at my very best and I’m just so happy I managed to do that and get over the finish line.
“You feel the pressure. As a Swede we’ve had a couple of close calls over the years. There’s been many before that tried and I’m just delighted that I made it for Sweden and all the other guys that tried in past years. It’s a sweet moment.”
Mickelson struck the first blow as he put his approach to tap-in range on the first for a birdie and when Stenson left his second short of the green, there was a two-shot swing.
Stenson birdied the second and third to edge ahead but Mickelson produced a stunning approach to the par five fourth for an eagle and when Stenson followed him in for a birdie, the duo were tied once again.
They both birdied the sixth and the brilliant exhibition continued with excellent tee-shots on the par three Postage Stamp but while Stenson rolled in his 15-footer, Mickelson could not take advantage and it was the 40 year old who led at the turn.
A pair of birdies followed on the tenth but a three-putt on the 11th from Stenson followed by a sensational par save from Mickelson had the duo level again before the BMW International Open winner’s incredible finish.
Mickelson finished with a 65 to sit 11 shots ahead of countryman JB Holmes who was a distant third at six under after a 69.
Another American, Steve Stricker, also fired a 69 to sit at five under, a shot clear of Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton. Andrew Johnston – another Englishman – was then at three under, one ahead of Dane Søren Kjeldsen and American duo Bill Haas and Dustin Johnson.