Troon: Tony Jacklin won two majors and is Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup captain but he says he has never seen anything like the battle royal between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at the 145th British Open.
Stenson and Mickelson traded birdie blow after birdie blow in a remarkable final-round slugfest at Royal Troon on Sunday before the 40-year-old Swede emerged victorious over the 46-year-old American.
The new champion's closing eight-under-par 63 tied the lowest round in a major and his winning total of 264 was a record for any of the 'Big Four' tournaments.
"It was amazing, those two guys were in another world," Englishman Jacklin told Reuters in an interview.
"Once more golf has given a great example to the world of sport. Those two just blew the field away, there was no one else in it.
"Henrik was 20-under at the end and Phil was 17-under, you would have thought Troon was a pitch and putt course last week but the weather was terrible on Friday and Saturday, the wind really blew," said the 72-year-old Jacklin.
American JB Holmes finished a distant third, 11 strokes adrift of five-times major winner Mickelson.
Jacklin, who followed up his 1969 British Open win at Royal Lytham by landing the U.S. Open title at Hazeltine, Minnesota a year later, said he was also struck on Sunday by the way that Stenson and Mickelson went about their business.
The two men showed there was a great rapport between them and engaged well with the huge galleries on the west coast of Scotland, high-fiving and fist-pumping fans as they made their way from one hole to the next.
"It was wonderful sportsmanship from both of them and Phil was gracious in defeat at the end," said Jacklin.
"I was sorry for Phil but delighted for Henrik because he's waited a long time for his first win in a major.
Duel in the sun
"He knew Phil wasn't going to lay down and just let him do it and it will go down as one of the finest finishes of all time."
Jacklin said it was every bit as good as the memorable 'Duel in the Sun' when Tom Watson edged out Jack Nicklaus in another ding-dong tussle in the British Open at nearby Turnberry 39 years ago.
"Sunday was right up there with 1977," said the man who won twice, tied once and lost once in four matches in charge of Europe's Ryder Cup team between 1983 and 1989.
"The whole process of winning a major is about staying in the moment. If you are made of the right material, as Henrik and Phil both are, they are class acts, it's all about not getting ahead of yourself.
"Henrik showed tremendous resolve and self belief. Even at the prize-giving ceremony he said 'I haven't taken it in yet', that just shows how concentrated he was," said Jacklin.
"Both players were out on their own, it was quite spectacular, and you could see the chemistry between them. It was wonderful golf in very, very difficult conditions.
"All power to Henrik and Phil. They deserve all the accolades they are going to get."