In a riveting head-to-head battle on Royal Troon Golf Club’s ancient, rumpled ground, veterans Hentrik Stenson andPhil Mickelson fought to make every shot count in the final round of the British Open in Scotland on Sunday.

Henrik Stenson Beats Phil Mickelson In British Open Final-Round Showdown For First Major Title

Ultimately, Stenson prevailed, shooting an 8-under 63 to finish the tournament at 20-under 264 to claim his first major championship title. After fourth or better in seven majors, the 40-year-old Swede won Sunday’s matchup with Mickelson by 2 strokes and the Claret Jug by 3 over the American.

Stenson’s 264 is the lowest total ever shot in a major and three shots clear of the lowest total in the Open. His final stroke was a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Royal Troon that fell into the cup on the final turn. His 63 matched Johnny Miller for the lowest closing round by a major champion.

“I didn’t know until they told me in the recorder’s hut,” Stenson said when asked if he knew that last putt was for 63.

The Swede also broke Tiger Woods’ record (-19 in 2000 at St. Andrews) for lowest winning total in relation to par in the Open.

“Thank you very much for a great fight,” Stenson told Mickelson as he accepted the Claret Jug.

Stenson ended his winner’s speech on the 18th green by dedicating the victory to a close friend who died of cancer the day before The Open started.

“I feel like he has been with me all week. Mike, this one is for you,” said an emotional Stenson as he raised the Claret Jug one more time and kissed it.

Mike Gerbich was a friend of Stenson and his wife Emma when they lived in Dubai. Gerbich and Henrik Stenson played golf together.

Stenson stopped Mickelson from winning a sixth major championship by sinking a 50-foot birdie putt from off the green at No. 15 that gave him a 2-shot lead with three to play.

Mickelson nearly missed an eagle putt on the 16th hole, and Stenson maintained his two-shot lead with an up-and-down for birdie from the deep rough.

“I knew he wasn’t going to back down at any point, and in a way that makes it easier for myself,” Stenson said. “I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances. He wasn’t going to give it to me, so I had to pull away. I’m just delighted I managed to do that with a couple of birdies at the right time.”

Mickelson led only once, a two-shot swing on the first hole. He and Stenson were tied with five holes left until the Swede made an 18-foot birdie on the par-3 14th and then buried Mickelson, nicknamed ‘Lefty,’ with a putt that defined his moment as a major champion.

American J.B. Holmes finished third, just 14 shots behind.

“Those guys are playing a different golf course than everyone else,” Holmes said.

Stenson’s previous best finish in a major was a tie for second at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, which Mickelson captured for his most recent major victory in which he defeated Stenson by three.

Stenson’s victory comes 19 years after fellow Swede Jesper Parnevik lost a 54-hole lead at Royal Troon. Stenson said Parnevik sent him a message stating, “Go out and finish what I didn’t manage to finish.”

“I’m really proud to have done that, and it’s going to be massive for golf in Sweden with this win,” Stenson said.

Mickelson was the runner-up at a major for the 11th time in his career. Only Jack Nicklaus has more second-place finishes (19).

“It’s probably the best I’ve played and not won,” Mickelson said on Sunday. “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. And I got beat. I got beat by 10 birdies.”

TROON, SCOTLAND – JULY 17: Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot on the 16th hole during the final round on day four of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 17, 2016 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

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