Last Updated: 22/07/13 10:03am
Phil Mickelson: Celebrates his birdie on 18 that sealed victory
Phil Mickelson rates his Open Championship success as the greatest win of his career after admitting he wondered whether he would ever master links golf.
The American claimed a three-shot victory at Muirfield in his 20th tilt at the Open, in the process winning the fifth major championship of his career.
Mickelson has won three Green Jackets and a USPGA but this victory - and his final round of 66 - has given him the most satisfying sense of achievement.
The 43-year-old Mickelson, who a week ago won his first title in Britain with victory in the Scottish Open, teed off on two over par - five shots off the lead - but steadily came through the field and superb approaches to the last two holes - which both set up birdies - clinched the title.
He took advantage of the fluctuating final-round fortunes of overnight leader Lee Westwood, Masters champion Adam Scott and world No 1 Tiger Woods.
"I have such an incredible difference of emotions from where I was a month ago with such a heart-breaking loss at the US Open. This is probably the greatest and most difficult win of my career"
Westwood allowed a three-stroke lead to slip through his fingers and Scott must have felt history was repeating itself as, just like 12 months ago at Royal Lytham when he squandered four shots in the last four holes, he led on the back nine but had four successive bogeys from the 13th.
And just when Woods - still trying to add to his tally of 14 majors after a five-year drought - looked like making a late charge after a birdie at the 14th to get back to one over, he bogeyed the next hole to drop out of the running.
That left Mickelson - who stormed home with four birdies in his last six holes - to set up a clubhouse target of three under that no one could match.
"What a fun day. This is some of the best golf I have ever played," said the Californian. "It's the best I've ever putted, they kept flying into the hole and every iron shot was right on line.
"You can't make it happen, you have to let it happen and I hit good shots which had good bounces giving me good putts that I made."
The American added on Radio 5 Live: "Playing this championship was the biggest challenge of my career and I didn't know if I had the skills to win on links golf but I played some of the best links golf I have ever played.
"It is amazing to be part of any Open Championship and to win at Muirfield feels amazing.
"I have such an incredible difference of emotions from where I was a month ago with such a heart-breaking loss at the US Open.
"This is probably the greatest and most difficult win of my career."
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