Phil Mickelson won the British Open on Sunday with a final-round 66.
“I never knew if I would be able to win this tournament,” Mickelson said after his final putt, a 15-yard birdie. “I always hoped and believed, but I never knew it -- until about an hour ago.”
The championship at Muirfield is Mickelson's fifth major, and his first since the 2010 Masters. This is his first British Open, and what he and his caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay called the best performance of the 43-year-old's career.
Mackay has been Mickelson's caddie for the entirety of his career, but has never cried at the end of a tournament. As Mickelson was presented the Claret Jug, though, the tears rolled.
"You're with a guy for all that time and it's pretty cool when you see him play the best round of his career in the last round of the British Open to win," Mackay said. "He played the best round of golf I've ever seen him play."
Mickelson birdied four of the last six holes and closed with a back-nine 32, ending with a final-round 66 that closed his victory. The left-hander came from five strokes back to win his fifth major, the third leg of a career Grand Slam. Mickelson has won the PGA Championship once and the Masters three times.
The win suggests the Hall-of-Famer may be an anomaly: More than two decades into his career, Mickelson is one of the best players of his -- or any -- generation, and still thinks of himself as a work in progress.
“He’s stronger than he’s ever been,” Mackay said. “He’s fitter than he’s ever been. He’s hungrier than he’s ever been. You can’t [overstate] how much he wants to compete and do well.”