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Phil Mickelson shoots final-round 66 to win British Open

By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer

Phil Mickelson might win his fifth major on Sunday at Muirfield. (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson won his fifth major on Sunday at Muirfield. (Getty Images)

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I don't think it's hyperbole given the conditions and leaderboard to say Phil Mickelson just put on one of the greatest final-round performances in major championship history.

After bogeying No. 10 and falling to 1 over he went on to birdie Nos. 13, 14, 17 and then this for birdie for a 3 under finish at No. 18:

With that, Mickelson shot a 5-under 66 to win his fifth career major Sunday at the British Open.

He carded a 32 on the back nine, which tied Mickelson for the best score on the back all week at Muirfield with Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Geoff Ogilvy.

Mickelson ended up beating second-place finisher Henrik Stenson by three shots at 3-under 281.

Mickelson's 66 also tied Zach Johnson for the round of the tournament. Johnson's came early on Thursday, though; Mickelson's came with Adam Scott, Lee Westwood and Woods bearing down on him.

It was such an epic finish for Lefty, too.

He became the second straight British Open winner to come from five shots or more down on a Sunday. Mickelson trailed Westwood by five this year after Ernie Els came back from six down over Scott last year. According to Justin Ray of ESPN, it was the lowest final-round score to win the British Open since Justin Leonard shot a 65 in 1997.

Mickelson admitted Sunday was special for him when talking with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi after his round.

"I'm playing some of the best golf of my career, and today was one of the best rounds I've ever played," he said. "It's the best I've ever putted -- it just was going in the hole."

It really was -- Mickelson never made any huge bombs but he was pouring in 12- and 15-foot birdies like his career legacy depended on it.

Speaking of legacies, Mickelson joins an elite (and I mean elite) group of golfers to have won the British Open at Muirfield since World War II. Here they are in order: Henry Cotton, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), Els, and now Mickelson.

We thought coming into the week a legend would add his name to the list but we certainly didn't think it would be with a 66 on Sunday when only one other person in the last few groups (Stenson) even broke par.

Mickelson's caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, said he's never seen this from Mickelson.

"This is the best round of golf I've ever seen him play," he said.

Mickelson said Saturday when he was 2 over he thought even-par would win the tournament and 1 over would get golfers into a playoff. It's clear he was just playing mind games with everyone and letting them battle for those numbers while he leapfrogged the field.

Ian Poulter, Westwood and Scott tied for third place behind Mickelson and Stenson. Woods shot a 74 and tied for sixth, five shots back of Mickelson.

It's crazy to me that Mickelson has now won the British Open before the US Open -- especially given his six second-place finishes there. In fact, he's now three-quarters of the way to a career grand slam.

He told Rinaldi afterward, "If six seconds [at the US Open] counted I'd have all four of them."

But three of the four is good enough for now, especially for a left-hander who doubted he could ever win golf's oldest championship.

"This is an incredible high," Mickelson said. "I didn't know if I would ever develop the game as a complete player to win this championship. I can't explain the feeling of satisfaction to win this tournament. Today's round will be one of the most memorable rounds of golf I've ever played."

For us, too, Phil. For us, too.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

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