Sweden's Henrik Stenson insisted he felt a sense of destiny after claiming the first Major of his career with victory at the Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Stenson carded a record-equalling final round of 63, having birdied four of his final five holes, to become just the second player in history to finish a Major on 20 under par, three shots clear of America’s Phil Mickelson.
JB Holmes came third on six under, while fellow American Steve Stricker was a further stroke back. Former world No1 Rory McIlroy, England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Sergio Garcia of Spain tied for fifth on four under.
“I felt like it was my time,” said world No6 Stenson, who had previously recorded seven top-four finishes in Majors. “For some reason I felt like it was my time – and it was. It’s not something you want to run around and shout but I felt like this was going to be my turn.
“I feel very privileged to be the one to hold this trophy. There’s been many great players from my country that have tried in past years and decades and there’s been a couple of really close calls.
“Jesper [Parnevik] in particular twice so he sent me a message. ‘Go out and finish what I didn’t manage to finish’ and I’m really proud to have done that. It’s going to be massive for golf in Sweden with this win.”
Five-time Major winner Mickelson had beaten Stenson into second place when he lifted the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2013, and despite a flawless 65 to finish 17 under he was unable to usurp the Swede this time around.
“It’s probably the best I’ve played and not won,” said Mickelson, who at the age of 46 was bidding to become the fourth oldest Major champion in history.
“I think that’s probably why it’s disappointing in that I don’t have a point where I can look back and say ‘I should have done that or had I only done this’. I played a bogey-free round of 65 on the final round of a Major, usually that’s good enough to do it.”
Stenson’s 20 under par finish equalled the record set by Australia’s Jason Day at last year’s US PGA Championship, while the tally beat the Open Championship record set by Tiger Woods in 2000.
Defending champion Zach Johnson, meanwhile, finished the tournament one under, as did English duo Andy Sullivan and Matthew Southgate. Two-time Major winner Jordan Spieth’s followed McIlroy’s lead and saved his best round for last. A score of 68 elevated him to two over for the tournament. Masters winner Danny Willett closed with a level-par 71 for seven over.
After finishing tied fifth, McIlroy said: “After the second day I was never going to win this golf tournament. Look what the guys have done, there was no chance of me getting that score. I sort of forgot about the Claret Jug and just tried to focus on finishing as high as I could, and I felt like I did that pretty well.”