Open Championship Review
So Phil Mickelson has at last got his hands on the Claret Jug after a spectacular final round at Muirfield. He is a fitting winner, too, a modern-day golfing great to add his name to the list of legends who have won the Open at the magnificent East Lothian links.
Coral now rate Lefty a 14/1 chance to make it a sixth major title at the USPGA next month with Tiger Woods 4/1 favourite to notch up his 15th career Grand Slam following his decent showing in Scotland.
For Lee Westwood, though, the wait goes on, not only for an Open, but for a major of any description, Everybody seemed to think, or at least hope, that the 40-year-old from Worksop was fated to triumph this time and round off a fantastic year for British sport when he pegged it up on Sunday two shots clear of the field.
He looked pretty cool, calm, collected and nicely in control of his own destiny when interviewed on Saturday night and the body language is always positive, but in the end he just couldn’t see the job through, his final-round 75 not even enough to hold off Henrik Stenson for the runner-up’s prize.
Mickelson raised his game on the final nine like the champion he is when others were faltering and there are few players punters would rather have on their side when the going gets tough than this popular American. And though now 43, he seems every bit as good as he ever was – maybe better – and certainly capable of winning more majors before he is through.
With the USPGA less than three weeks away, others will have taken great encouragement from their Muirfield labours, not least Ian Poulter, who surged up the leaderboard on the final day and looked at one time as though he might set a target others might not be able to match.
Coral go 66/1 a Poulter victory in Rochester, New York, next month, while Justin Rose (20/1), Rory McIlroy (25/1) and Luke Donald (28/1) are other Brits who will have their supporters, despite their hugely disappointing showings in the Open.
Another well worth considering at 100/1 is the new Japanese star, Hideki Matsuyama. This former world number one amateur joined the paid ranks only three months ago, but has since finished tenth in the US Open and sixth in our Open – and he would have finished tied third at Muirfield had he not controversially been docked a shot on Saturday for slow play.
Or could it actually now be Westwood’s turn (he’s 25/1)? Perhaps the former number one will finally come good in a major just when even his biggest fans are beginning to wonder whether it will ever happen. Maybe Britain’s wonderful year of sporting highlights isn’t quite over yet.
Written by Jon Freeman