July 20, 2016
Sports Insider Weekly
Phil Mickelson had an impressive, almost historic, performance at the British Open–but it wasn’t enough to capture his sixth major. Mickelson started out strong, falling just short of becoming the only player to shoot 62 in a major on the first day. But by Sunday, the tournament had become a two-man duel, with the 46-year old golfer going head-to-head with another veteran golfer–Henrik Stenson.
A victory for Mickelson would be his first Open win in three years and another victory over Stenson. In 2013, the golfer shot a final-round 66 to beat his Swedish opponent by three. This time, his 65 wasn’t enough to capture the Claret Jug.
“It’s disappointing to come in second, but I’m happy for Henrik,” said Mickelson, who had 10 birdies, including for on the back nine. “He’s really a great champion. We’ve been friends for some time. I’ve always thought that he is one of the best ball-strikers in the game and that major championships are perfectly suited for him. I knew that he would ultimately come through and win. I’m happy that he did. I’m disappointed that it was at my expense.”
While Mickelson was great on Sunday, Stenson was even better. The two 40-something golfers traded birdies and pars on the final day of the 145th British Open, each vying to add a major victory to their record. In the end, Stenson won his first by shooting a staggering 63 in the final round. He joins Johnny Miller as the only golfer to ever to shoot that low in the final round of a major.
For the 40-year old golfer — who with the victory became the first Swedish man to win a major championship — the victory is the result of a lot of hard work, and after a lot of disappointment, which he got through with the help of his loved ones.
“If I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t be sitting here. It’s a dream come true as a young kid — well, not that young. I was 11 when I started playing. But it was the Ryder Cup and the Open Championship; those were the big early memories I had,” said Stenson, who is now No. 5 in the world. “So to sit there and hold this trophy is really amazing.”
J.B. Holmes came in third, while Steve Stricker finished fourth. Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Tyyrell Hatton rounded out the top five with a three-way tie.
On Sunday, with the sun blazing and two out in the bottom of the ninth, Dusty Baker sent Daniel Murphy to the plate in place of Ben Revere. Murphy, who has been dealing with hamstring injuries, came to plate, hoping to be a hero for Washington.
Despite his injuries, and as he has so often this season, the major league’s hit-leading second basemen delivered. With two strikes, the New York transplant sent a solo shot into right field to tie the game and force extra innings.
A lot of extra innings.
The game was tied at one apiece through eight more innings before Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte hit a solo home run off Oliver Perez to put the Pirates ahead 2-1 in the top of the eighteenth. The Nats were unable to even it up in the bottom of the inning, ending the five plus hour game.
“Too many innings,” Martie said. “We were tired. It was time for a home run.”
Despite the loss, Max Scherzer still had a strong outing, pitching seven innings, with just six hits and one run. And though they lost Sunday’s marathon game, they won the three series, besting Pittsburgh 2-1.
The Nats will enjoy an off day Monday, before hosting both the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres later this week.