Phil Mickelson, the swashbuckling golfer who won his first Open Championship on Sunday at Muirfield with a 5-under 66 round at Muirfield that was for the ages, said he attempted his daring shots on the 17th and 18th holes because he did not want the title handed to him.
“I don’t want anybody to hand it to me,” Mickelson said. “It’s been the way I have always played.”
En route to his title, Mickelson reached the par-5 17th hole in two by hammering a 3-wood from over 300 yards. He eventually tapped in for birdie to go 2-under the tournament and into sole possession of first place. Mickelson then glanced at the scoreboard and saw that he had a one-shot lead, and went for the jugular on the 18th hole, aggressively hitting his approach shot, putting the green-side bunker in play, and promptly rolling in a birdie to finish at -3, practically leaving no doubt about who was going to win the Open.
“I went for it,” Mickelson said, wanting to leave nothing to chance.
That has been Mickelson’s style throughout his career, and it most famously cost him the elusive U.S. Open which he now needs to join five other golfing legends who have career grand slams, at Winged Foot in 2006.
But on Sunday, his aggressiveness ensured he won the Claret Jug that he admitted he once thought he would never be able to win.