GULLANE, SCOTLAND (AP) - Phil Mickelson is mystified no more by links golf. He has his name etched in a silver claret jug to prove it.
The 43-year-old Mickelson delivered his best closing round ever in a major Sunday _ at the British Open, of all places _ when he ran off four birdies over the last six holes for a 5-under 66 at Muirfield to win the third leg of the career Grand Slam.
“This is such an accomplishment for me because I just never knew if I’d be able to develop the game to play links golf effectively,” said Mickelson, the Scottish Open winner a week earlier. “To play the best round arguably of my career, to putt better than I’ve ever putted, to shoot the round of my life … it feels amazing to win the claret jug.”
At the end of a rough-and-tumble week along the Firth of Forth, Mickelson was the only player under par _ at 3 under. He wound up with a three-shot win over Henrik Stenson, one of four players atop the leaderboard during a final round that was up for grabs until Mickelson seized control in the final hour.
Tied for the lead, Mickelson smashed a 3-wood onto the green at the par-5 17th to about 25 feet for a two-putt birdie, and made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th to match the lowest score of this championship.
Lee Westwood, who started Sunday with a two-shot lead, fell behind for the first time all day with a bogey on the 13th and never recovered. He shot 75 to tie for third at 1 over with Ian Poulter (67) and Masters champion Adam Scott (72). Tiger Woods, in his best position to win a major since the crisis in his personal life, stumbled badly on his way to a 74. He tied for sixth, five stroke back.
Stenson finished with a 70.
SYLVANIA, Ohio (AP) _ Spain’s Beatriz Recari outdueled Paula Creamer in a head-to-head battle to win the Marathon Classic for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year and third overall.
Recari and Creamer, who won the tournament then known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic five years ago, started the day tied for first, three shots ahead of their nearest pursuers. They traded the lead but were still even until Recari birdied the par-3 14th.
The 26-year-old Recari closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 17-under 267. She missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th, but made a clutch 5-footer for par at the 18th. Creamer finished with a 67. The American is winless since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
MADISON, Miss. (AP) _ Woody Austin won the Sanderson Farms Classic for his first PGA Tour victory since 2007, beating Cameron Beckman and Daniel Summerhays with an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.
The 49-year-old Austin is the eighth-oldest winner in PGA Tour history and the oldest since Fred Funk at 50 in 2007. Austin was making his fourth PGA Tour start of the year. He has four career victories.
Austin came into the final round two shots behind Summerhays and Nicholas Thompson, but made up ground with a 5-under 67 to finish at 20-under 268. Beckman and Summerhays both birdied No. 18 to match Austin, and Beckman missed a 5-foot putt that would have forced a second playoff hole.