Historian Phil: Wanted to be more Tom than Jack

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TROON, Scotland – It occurred to Phil Mickelson, more than once, that the Duel in the Sun happened 25 miles south of here at Turnberry in 1997 when a young Tom Watson went head-to-head with Jack Nicklaus and beat him.

Watson shot 65 to Nicklaus’ 66 and won his third major. Third-place Hubert Green was 10 shots behind Nicklaus.

So, while trading blows around Royal Troon Sunday to decide the 145th Open, Mickelson, a golf historian of sorts, couldn’t help but think about epic outcome nearly 40 years ago.


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“I certainly was thinking about that,” a shell-shocked Mickelson said after shooting a final-round 65 to lose to Henrik Stenson by two shots. Stenson shot 63.

“I know that I wanted to be more of Tom in that case than Jack, but unfortunately, I understand how it feels. It’s bittersweet, I guess.”

Nicklaus finished second 19 times in majors. Mickelson has now finished second 11 times.