Home' Australian Golf Digest : July 2017 Contents 84 australiangolfdigest.com.au | july 2017
PREDICTION AT OAKMONT
henrik stenson, who was paired with
Mickelson in the first two rounds of the US
Open: On the third hole of the second
round at Oakmont, we were waiting. Phil
turned to me and said I had the game for
the Majors. Then he said he really hoped
that I would win one.
phil mickelson I said, “Listen, you’re one
of the best long-iron and middle-iron play-
ers in the game, which is what you have
to do to win Major championships.” I said,
“ You’re going to win your Major champion-
ship. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
henrik stenson My reply was, while that
was all very well, it would be great as long
as he wasn’t on the receiving end of it.
After an opening 69 at Oakmont, Stenson
was 10-over par for 16 holes in the second
round before darkness halted play, and he
subsequently withdrew from the US Open.
henrik stenson I’d felt a pop in my right
knee during a workout session in my room
on the eve of the event. I tried to play, but
it was hopeless, especially as I had to play
nearly 36 holes on the Friday. I pulled out
as a precautionary measure but played in
the BMW International in Germany and
won before I got to the Scottish Open. That
was important. I had been close to winning
a few times over the previous months.
gareth lord, Stenson’s caddie: Yeah, there
were some odd ones in there. When
Jordan Spieth beat us at the  Tour
Championship, he didn’t hit the course
for two days. It was absolute robbery.
When Jordan made a huge putt on the
11th green in the last round, I looked over
at Henrik. It looked like he had just been
kidney-punched by Rocky Balboa. We had
reached the stage where we expected the
other guy to do something fluky. But we
were past that by Troon. Nothing Phil did
came as a surprise.
ANOTHER MEETING BEFORE TROON
phil mickelson, on playing with Stenson
in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart a week
before the Open at Troon, both finishing T-13:
The final round, I shot 66 in some terrible
weather. Felt like I was ready.
jim (bones] mackay, Mickelson’s caddie: We
got the tough end of the weather the first two
days at Castle Stuart. We got crushed on the
tee-times, and we played in like 35-mile-an-
hour gusts on Thursday afternoon. That’s
the thing that’s great about the British – and
at times incredibly painful. When Rory won
at Liverpool in 2014, we got crushed. We got
crushed at St Andrews in 2010.
gareth lord [Justin Rose] is cursed at the
Open. If you’re within an hour of him in the
draw, you have no chance. [Laughs.]
jim mackay The joke was going into the week,
maybe the fact we got the bad tee-times at the
Scottish, we paid our penance: We got it last
week. Please Lord, let it not get us this week.
We didn’t, and it was just a question of taking
advantage. You know, Phil had obviously
played at Troon before  and had played
extremely well. Missed that playoff by a shot,
so he had good feelings about it.
pete cowen, Stenson’s swing coach: I had put
a thick putter grip on a wedge for him when
he won in Germany the month before, and I
brought it with me to Scotland. He’s so feel-
oriented, and that grip helps him achieve the
perfect movement on the backswing. Once
four decades after the celebrated Tom Watson-Jack Nicklaus Duel in the Sun
at Turnberry, two players separated themselves in another classic showdown
for the 2016 Open Championship. Phil Mickelson started at Royal Troon by
tieing the Major-championship record with a 63 – call it a 621⁄2 after his putt
for 62 lipped out of the cup – but Henrik Stenson closed with a 63 on Sunday
to hold off Mickelson’s bogey-free 65 in perhaps the finest head-to-head
final-round matchup in the game’s history. ▶ “They scored better than we did,”
said Nicklaus, whose 65-66 finish in 1977 fell one short of Watson’s 65-65.
Added Watson: “They played better.” ▶ In the days, weeks and months after the
events at Troon, Golf Digest interviewed Stenson, Mickelson, their caddies
and 16 other key figures who were intimate witnesses to that memorable week
and the build-up that started a month earlier.
he knows he’s in position, he becomes so
calm and confident. On the other hand, if
he doesn’t feel right, he tends to panic. And
when he does that, he tries to correct things
at impact. But by then, of course, it’s too late.
He and I are always fighting that. When he’s
not comfortable with something, we always
go ’round in circles technically. We always
finish up in the same place, but how well
he does depends on how big the circle is.
And the circle was very small that week.
Having known him for 15 years, I know when
to shut up, which is part of being a good
coach, of course.
gareth lord Tactically, Troon is pretty
basic: hit it there, then hit it into the middle
of the green. If you go long, you’ve had it.
That’s it. But of course, it’s all about execution.
henrik stenson We walked the course
on the Monday afternoon. It was raining.
Neither of us had ever seen the course before.
gareth lord If we had gone out with
the clubs, the course would have seemed
unplayable and maybe affected Henrik’s
henrik stenson I played only nine holes
[the front] on Tuesday and nine more [the
back] on Wednesday. That was it. But I had
seen what I needed to see.
gareth lord That’s a lot less than we would
normally do. But we had our plan. We have
always worked on the premise that Henrik
needs to feel strong at the weekend to win a
Major. Plus, if you don’t have your game by
Wednesday morning, you’re not going to find
it by that evening.
LOSING A CLOSE FRIEND
tim barter, Sky Sports: My impression of
Henrik over the course of the whole week
is that he was more focused than I have
ever seen him. Henrik is a practical joker.
Whenever we get him on the “Skypad”
[basically a massive iPad], he wants to play
with it. He wants to press the buttons. But
he was less like that at Troon.
henrik stenson I was on a mission. I had
lost a good friend earlier that week [Mike
Gerbich, whom Stenson had met while
living in Dubai]. Mike’s son had put this on
his dad’s Facebook page: Go win this one for
Mike. When I read that, I shed a few tears
on the Tuesday night. He was my cause that
week. Mentally, that helped. I never got stuck
thinking about why I hit it left or why I had a
pete cowen That was why Henrik was
wearing the ribbon on his hat. It was there
’PHIL GOES, “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!”
AND HE’S LIKE, “TEAM MEETING.”
FIRST TIME IN 24 YEARS HE CALLED
A TEAM MEETING DURING A ROUND.’
– CADDIE JIM MACKAY
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