Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Right Stuff

In the final round of today's historic Open championship Johnny Miller, candid as ever, said he had wondered whether Henrik Stenson had the "right stuff" to win a Major.  We now know he has.

That final round battle between Stenson and Mickelson will be one for the ages.  Stenson's performance was simply out of this world, tying Johnny Miller's record of 63 for the lowest final round score in a Major.  Phil's 65 was fantastic and should have been enough under normal circumstances.  But when your opponent throws ten birdies at you on a course like Royal Troon, I guess you just have to take your hat off to him.  Stenson was absolutely brilliant.

And yet Stenson started the day with two mediocre shots and three putts for bogey, while Phil hit a magical second shot to leave himself a tap in birdie and take the lead.  I must admit that I said to myself, "Here we go again."  I figured Phil was going to steal the show and Stenson was going to still be the best player not to have won a Major.  

But Stenson had the resolve of knowing that he did have the right stuff and that his time had indeed come.  I've long thought that Stenson had the best swing and was the best ball striker in the game.  But ball striking does not win you Majors.  In the end it is the self-belief and the ability to reach down and make the putts when you have to.  Now Stenson knows he can make the big putts on golf's biggest stage.  At 40, one now has to wonder how many more Majors he can win.  It's interesting to note that it took Phil Mickelson more attempts than Stenson before he finally broke through and won his first one.

They must surely be partying in Sweden today.  And so they should.  They have a great champion.  They have the champion golfer of the year.  Henrik Stenson has the right stuff.