2016 British Open: Sunday birdies and bogeys

SUBSCRIBE

2016 British Open: Sunday birdies and bogeys

July 17, 2016

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: AFP/Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: AFP/Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Henrik Stenson

With tremendous poise and class, the 40-year-old Swede won his first career major at Royal Troon, and he did it in record fashion. Stenson passed Greg Norman for the best 72-hole score in the history of the tournament, and matched Johnny Miller as the only other golfer to shoot a final-round 63 to win a major. He is the first Swedish male golfer to win a major, and he did it by needing to outlast a playing partner, Phil Mickelson, who had five majors to his credit and virtually nothing to lose. Once considered one of the best players in the world without a major, Stenson is now creeping up on consideration for the Hall of Fame. -- Pat Kiernan

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Phil Mickelson

He was the runner-up at Royal Troon, but there was nothing second-rate about Mickelson's day. After a somewhat erratic showing in Round 3, the 46-year-old came out firing, finishing with a six-under 65, the second-best score on Sunday behind Stenson's 63. His putting, scrambling, ball-striking -- and most importantly, bravado -- was the perfect complement to Stenson's performance, spurring one of the best final-round battles in major championship history. -- Joel Beall

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Birdie: Match Play Golf

Thirty-nine years after the famed Duel in the Sun between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, the Mickelson-Stenson tilt was a modern day example of two stars of the game separating themselves from the rest of the field and feeding off each other's sublime play. Until Henrik Stenson's birdie on the par-4 15th Sunday, it ended a streak of 19 consecutive holes when they were within a stroke of one another, and they finished with a combined best ball score of 57. The cliche golfers like to espouse is they prefer to focus on playing the golf course. But it's far more compelling when they're contending more against another person. -- Sam Weinman

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Bogey: Match Play Golf

Of course, if you're looking for a reason why match play would never work as a format for a major championship, consider the other side. When the battle is between two players, there's less golf to show, and the pace between shots lags. Now throw in the fact that you don't always get A-listers like Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson but often two guys who are far less of a draw, and the match play format leaves too much to chance. -- SW

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Birdie: Andrew Johnston

The unquestioned breakout star of the week, Johnston’s crowds by the weekend were something to behold. Choruses of “BEEEEEF” rang throughout Royal Troon with little kids shrieking at the affable Brit as he strolled by. And Johnston did his best to acknowledge everyone. The magic ran out a bit on Sunday with a 73, but he had already proved that he’s much more than just a colorful character. -- Alex Myers

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Birdie: Rory McIlroy

It had been a tough week in Scotland for McIlroy, from telling reporters he "didn't get into golf to get other people into the game" to breaking his 3-wood in frustration in the midst of a third-round 73. On Sunday, though, things turned around for the 2014 Open champion. McIlroy fired a four-under 67, the best score of the day when he entered the clubhouse. This assured McIlroy a tie for fifth, his eighth career top-five and 14th top-10 finish in a major. -- PK

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Rory McIlroy

Impressed as we are by McIlroy battling back to register another high major finish, it's worth noting he has become a master of the back-door top 10. His T-5 finish at Troon marks the fifth straight major top 10 in which he was back far enough at the start of the final round to play relatively unencumbered. The fact that McIlroy battles to the finish is admirable, but it's also a reminder of how often he struggles to string together four consecutive good rounds. -- SW

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Johnny Miller's Rory narrative

"I think he overdid the weight room, personally," Miller said on Sunday regarding McIlroy's physique, echoing comments he made on Saturday. "I don't think that helped him at all. Same thing with Tiger Woods. You just get carried away with wearing the tight shirts and showing off their, sort of, muscles." It's not the first time the NBC broadcaster has posed this theory. Given that McIlroy placed 1-4-MC-3 in four tournaments before the Open -- to go along with his T-5 at Troon -- it's also a misinformed take. -- JB

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Steve Stricker

A late addition to last week’s Scottish Open after the Greenbrier Classic was canceled, Stricker’s early arrival in the UK paid off handsomely. A Sunday 67 gave Stricker a solo fourth, the best British Open finish of his career. It’s made even more impressive since he overcame a quadruple bogey on Friday – and the fact he’ll be eligible for the PGA Tour Champions in a few months. -- AM

Photo By: AFP/Getty Images

Bogey: Bill Haas

Playing alongside “Beef” Johnston in the penultimate pairing, Haas faltered early on Sunday with a 39 on the front. He bounced back on the final nine to finish T-9, Haas’ best-ever major showing, so it’s not a total loss of a week. But for a player who had never factored into a weekend at a major, it was also a missed opportunity. -- Stephen Hennessey

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Dustin Johnson

Johnson's first-round 71 made him an afterthought for the rest of the tournament, never truly contending for the claret jug. Conversely, the newly-minted U.S. Open champ was consistent on the scoreboard, stringing together a 69-70-72 on the weekend for a two-under mark. The 282 score equated to a T-9 finish, meaning Johnson now has six top 10s in his past seven major appearances. -- JB

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Birdie: J.B. Holmes

Sunday started as a competition for third place for those not named Henrik Stenson or Phil Mickelson. That’s how Holmes viewed the day, at least, and earned the low honor of finishing solo third with his final-round 69 at Royal Troon -- his lowest-ever finish in a major. That follows his T-4 at the Masters earlier this year. Holmes started the week 12th in Ryder Cup points, meaning his Royal Troon performance puts him right on the verge of making Team USA’s squad at Hazeltine. -- SH

Photo By: R&A via Getty Images

Birdie: Moderately-paced greens

There are a number of reasons why the brand of golf was much more entertaining on Sunday at Troon than it was several weeks back at Oakmont, but one is that players could stand over a putt and not fear being humiliated. The slower greens at Troon, registering around 9.5 on the Stimpmeter, was in part a concession to high winds, and for many players it required an adjustment. But eventually it led to more aggressive putting, and an overall quicker pace of play. No doubt, one's ability to handle fast greens is an important test, but so is one's ability to roll in putt after putt, which is what we saw on Sunday. -- SW

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Olympics timing

When the criteria for qualifying for the Olympics was released, many people raised an eyebrow at the July 11 deadline –- a week before the conclusion of the British Open. And that odd decision to not count the season’s third major toward qualifying almost impacted who is going to Rio in a major way. Had Phil Mickelson won, he would have moved into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but wouldn’t be on Team USA. Of course, the IGF avoided that awkward scenario. Now we can only hope it’s not too late for whoever captures the PGA Championship. -- AM

Photo By: AFP/Getty Images

Birdie: Matthew Southgate

Henrik Stenson is the Champion Golfer of the Year, and Andrew "Beef" Johnston is the clear new "People's Champ." But the real winner of the week is Southgate. The Englishman watched last year's Open from his couch, in recovery from a battle with testicular cancer. Southgate made the most of his opportunity at Troon, posting a one-under 283 to finish T-12. It was an impressive finish on the scoreboard, but almost somewhat irrelevant. Simply teeing it up in the Open Championship was victory in itself for Southgate. -- JB

Photo By: Getty Images

Shop This Look