Wednesday November 25th, 2015 5:17AM

Lefty wins Open for 1st time with brilliant finish

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
GULLANE, SCOTLAND -- Instead of another excruciating loss in a major championship, Phil Mickelson got a chance to celebrate early.

A brilliant closing round at challenging Muirfield made it possible.

Mickelson won the claret jug for the first time and his fifth major championship with a 5-under 66 on Sunday, matching the best round of the tournament on a day when the other contenders - including Tiger Woods - faded away.

Lefty birdied four of the last six holes, winning by three strokes and emphatically erasing the memory of all those close calls that didn't go his way - the latest one just last month when he was runner-up at the U.S. Open for a staggering sixth time.

"This is such an accomplishment for me," Mickelson said. "I never knew if I'd be able to develop the game and the shots to play links golf effectively. To play what is arguably the best round of my career, to putt the way I putted, to shoot the round of my life, it just feels amazing to win the claret jug."

Overall, Mickelson has eight runner-up finishes in the majors, including one at golf's oldest major championship just two years ago.

Now, at age 43, he's finally got his name on the claret jug, three-fourths of the way along to a career Grand Slam and assuring he'll go down as one of the greats of the game.

"I putted soooo good," Mickelson said.

He began his amazing finish with a 8-footer for birdie at the 13th, getting his score back to even par and giving him a score that he thought would be in the mix at the end if he simply parred out.

Mickelson did much better than that, rolling in a 20-footer at the 14th for another birdie, reaching the green in two at the par-5 17th to set up yet another birdie, and closing it with a 10-footer on the final hole for a 3-under 281 total.

Even though there were still four groups still on the course, Mickelson knew he had done more than enough to win. He pumped his fists and let out a yell. His caddie burst into tears. His wife and kids celebrated just off the green.

Lee Westwood began the day with a two-stroke lead but was again denied his first major title. He struggled to a 75 that left him four shots back, and Mickelson's victory was assured when Westwood didn't come close to making the eagle he needed on the 17th. Woods was two shots out at the start but a 74 left him five shots behind the winner.

Mickelson was the only player to break par over four days at a baked-out course that bedeviled the world's best golfers.

Everyone but Mickelson, that is. Henrik Stenson was the runner-up at 284. Ian Poulter and Adam Scott finished another shot back.

"Phil must've played really well," Westwood said. "Five-under par is a good round of golf this afternoon."
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Falcons fire offensive, defensive line coaches
The Atlanta Falcons have fired defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn.
7:02PM ( 1 year ago )
Best, worst of Falcons' 4-12 season
Best Game: They'd been eliminated from playoff contention previous week vs. New Orleans, but the Falcons showed some heart with Dec. 1 overtime victory over Bills in Toronto.
6:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Gonzalez's career ends with another Falcons loss
Tony Gonzalez is ready for the next chapter of his life.
9:47PM ( 1 year ago )
Professional Sports
Wolves proving early skeptics wrong
It’s hard to imagine a Buford team having to play with a chip on its shoulder. But if ever there has been a collective group of Wolves that felt the need, the 2015 squad is it.
5:14PM ( 11 hours from now )
Marshall brothers add turkey to Georgia-Ga Tech rivalry
The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry this year will feature a Thanksgiving feast that brings opposing players to the same dinner table.
10:52AM ( 5 hours from now )
Boys basketball: Discovery knocks off White County for Turkey Shootout title
Discovery won the boys Turkey Shootout Tournament at Chestatee High Tuesday with a 71-61 victory over White County in the finals.
By The Associated Press
12:16AM ( 5 hours ago )
Boys basketball: Lions take out Vikings for Piedmont Classic crown
The Lakeview Academy boys basketball team knocked off East Hall 87-69 on Tuesday to claim the Piedmont College Hardwood Classic title in Demorest.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:07AM ( 5 hours ago )
Girls basketball: East Hall knocks off Lakeview for Piedmont title
The East Hall girls basketball team continued its strong start to the season on Tuesday, pushing past Lakeview Academy 61-51 to claim the Piedmont College Hardwood Classic in Demorest.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:58PM ( 5 hours ago )