GULLANE, Scotland — Instead of another excruciating loss in a major championship, Phil Mickelson got a chance to celebrate early.
A brilliant closing round at challenging Muirfield made it possible.
Mickelson won the claret jug for the first time and his fifth major championship with a 5-under 66 on Sunday, matching the best round of the tournament on a day when the other contenders — including Tiger Woods — faded away.
Lefty birdied four of the last six holes, winning by three strokes and emphatically erasing the memory of all those close calls that didn't go his way — the latest one just last month when he was runner-up at the U.S. Open for a staggering sixth time.
"This is such an accomplishment for me," Mickelson said. "I never knew if I'd be able to develop the game and the shots to play links golf effectively. To play what is arguably the best round of my career, to putt the way I putted, to shoot the round of my life, it just feels amazing to win the claret jug."