Sweden's Henrik Stenson won the British Open after beating USA's Phil Mickelson in an extraordinary final round duel.
Swede Henrik Stenson won the British Open beating Phil Mickelson in an extraordinary final round duel.
He became the first Scandinavian male to capture a major.
The world number six produced a swashbuckling eight under par 63 to finish 20 under on 264, three ahead of playing partner Mickelson (65).
The 40-year-old Stenson's round equaled the lowest in any major championship and his winning total was also a record for any of the 'Big Four' tournaments.
"Wow, this will take a little while to sink in," said Stenson as he held aloft the coveted Claret Jug.
"I'm still trying to find my bearings here."
The two men traded blow after stunning blow, reeling off birdie after birdie to turn the last day of golf's oldest major into a two-way procession.
Mickelson showed he meant business with a first-hole birdie after drilling a majestic approach to tap-in range while overnight leader Stenson took three putts.
Stenson birdied five of the next seven holes, making a complete nonsense of gusts of up to 40.23 km/h on the windswept Ayrshire coastline.
Mickelson, however, refused to be cowed and an eagle three at the fourth followed by a birdie two holes later meant he was only one behind at the turn.
The putts continued to fall at the 10th as both players birdied yet again.
The 46-year-old American leveled again at the 11th when his title rival three-putted for the second time.
Stenson delivered the coup de grace with a hat-trick of birdies at the 14th, 15th and 16th giving him a two-shot advantage with two holes to play.
Mickelson's last chance came and went at the 16th when his eagle putt just missed.
Stenson, full of adrenaline on the 18th tee, hammered his tee shot 310 yards down the fairway and was mightily relieved to see it stop 12 inches short of one of Royal Troon's fiendish pot bunkers.
He safely found the green with his approach and rolled in another monster putt to complete victory and post the 29th round of 63 in major championship history.
"I knew he wasn't going to back down at any point and in a way that makes it easier," said Stenson. "I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances."
Mickelson was generous in his praise.
"It's disappointing to come in second but I'm happy for Henrik, he's really a great champion," said the left-hander.
"We've been friends for some time."