The Open 2016: Stenson sees off Mickelson in engrossing duel to win first major title

Sweden's Henrik Stenson is the Open champion, after beating Phil Mickelson in a memorable battle at Royal Troon

The Open 2016: Stenson sees off Mickelson in engrossing duel to win first major title
Henrik Stenson lifts the Claret Jug (image via: Jan Kruger/R&A via Getty Images)

In a head-to-head battle for the ages, Henrik Stenson outlasted Phil Mickelson to become 2016 British Open champion. 

The two-horse race at Royal Troon, saw Stenson prevail by three shots, after the leading pair had gone blow-for-blow on a nail-biting final day. 

Having had nine top-three major finishes, Stenson finally became the first Swede to become a major winner thanks to a final round of 63 which included an astonishing ten birdies. 

Mickelson and Stenson during the final round (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

The 2013 Open champion Mickelson, who beat Stenson into second place that week, could not have done much more, finishing a full 11 shots clear of the next best finisher. 

Chasing pack led by Holmes and Johnston given no hope following electric start by final group

Heading into the final round, Stenson and Mickelson had a considerable lead over the other players, and the winner was always likely to come from the final pairing. 

England's Andrew 'Beef' Johnston started well, as did JB Holmes of Kentucky, who hit three birdies in his first seven holes, yet neither ever looked like a serious contender for the Claret Jug.

Behind them, Stenson and Mickelson were playing golf from another planet, making the most of the best conditions all week to increase their lead over any potential chasing pack. 

After the lead switched hands into the American's favour on the first hole, the Ice Man hit three birdies on the bounce to move to -14, only for Mickelson to eagle the fourth to draw level. 

Stenson's putter the hotter down the stretch as he claims first major title

With both players having completed the front nine in just 32 shots, it was the Swede who maintained a one-shot lead thanks in part to his birdie at the Postage Stamp which he birdied in two to reach -16.

The back nine started with both players making birdie at the 10th, before Stenson then dropped his second shot of the day to drop back into a share of the lead. 

Stenson sinks another putt (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The 14th hole then saw the start of Stenson's tournament-winning charge, with a 15ft putt dropping which allowed him to retake the lead with four holes remaining, which he then followed up with another monster putt on 15 to move two ahead. 

Lefty fought back once more, and was within inches of an astonishing eagle on 16 which just passed on the left of the hole, only for Stenson to step up once more and fire in a birdie of his own to maintain the two-shot lead. 

Both men made par on the 17th, and following another immaculate approach shot onto the final green, Stenson fired in his 10th birdie of the round to complete his breathtaking round of 63. 

The final scoreboard on the 18th (image: Matthew Lewis - Getty Images)

The leading pair's combined round of 14-under par was a real sight to behold and provided fans with an Open Championship which will be remembered for years to come. 

It was Stenson though who is Champion Golfer of the Year at the age of 40, with the Open moving on to Royal Birkdale in 2017.