In a lengthy, insightful and, as always, entertaining interview earlier in the year Henrik Stenson was preparing to celebrate his 40th birthday and was upbeat about breaking his majors duck. That belief and confidence in his own ability was finally realised at Troon this evening.
With a string of major near-misses behind him, the Swede wasn’t going to let it slip from his grasp this time and sure enough he produced a mesmerising final round to finally and convincingly clinch the Claret Jug by three shots.
Nothing could stop Stenson’s drive to Open glory: not even a nervy opening hole bogey; not even a magnificent performance from arch rival Phil Mickelson whose stunning last round 65 was to no avail.
It was arguably the greatest, most dramatic Open showdown and shoot-out since the famous Watson-Nicklaus Duel in the Sun nearly 40 years ago.
Stenson had to play second fiddle to Mickelson in the 2013 Open at Muirfield and was determined, desperate even, to avoid a repeat performance. He knew he had to be at his very best....and he was.
Despite his early hiccup, Stenson remained fully focussed and never looked like dropping his guard despite being put under immense pressure by ‘Lefty.’ He was asked plenty of questions but delivered the right answers time and time again much to the veteran American’s dismay, frustration and, no doubt, admiration.
Like a fine wine, Stenson has matured with age and indeed throughout the week, including dashing around Glasgow Rangers' Ibrox Stadium at a Callaway function on Monday night, he has been having fun and in total control of his game and emotions.
It was a titanic effort by both players who ripped apart one of the toughest links courses around and left the rest of the field trailing in their wake and vying for third place.
In that interview several months back, Stenson pointed out he had enjoyed a highly successful career, winning virtually everything in the game. He was concerned though that his CV was only missing one thing – a major – but hadn’t given up hope of winning at least one.
At the time poised to turn 40, he believed his time was to come. Well, his time has arrived and dramatically, spectacularly – and deservedly – so.....