Confidential: Mickelson vs. Stenson, Who Will Win British Open?
Each night during the British Open, writers, producers and editors from the Sports Illustrated Golf Group give their opinions on the hot topic of the day at Royal Troon. Agree with our takes? Disagree? Let us know by tweeting us at @golf_com.
1. Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson will go 1-on-1 in the final pairing on Sunday at Royal Troon. Who will prevail and hoist the claret jug at the end of the day?
Sean Steinemann, social media editor, GOLF.com: I think losing the lead may play to Phil’s advantage, as he doesn’t have that pressure on him to start the round. A free-swinging Lefty is a scary thought, and I think he gets it done tomorrow at Royal Troon. Plus he’s been there before and Stenson hasn’t.
Marika Washchyshyn, multimedia producer, GOLF.com: I am such a Phil-liever. With no disrespect to the incredible show Stenson has been putting on both at Troon and recently — because he really does deserve a major win — I can’t help but cheer on my childhood favorite. Phil beat Stenson in the final round of the 2013 edition to take home the claret jug. I don’t see why he can’t do it again. Bring it home, Lefty!
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It's gonna be a war of attrition - both payers have their flaws and scar tissue. But in the end Phil has the know-how, and I think wants it a little more.
Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, GOLF.com: Stenson has never had a 54-hole lead in a major and never played in a final group. Phil has been here before, and because he already has one claret jug, he has less to lose. Over the closing holes, I think Stenson tightens, and Phil wins it.
Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF Magazine: Phil's shotmaking was pretty spotty on Saturday, while Henrik Stenson usually turns into Homer Simpson with his putter on Major Sundays. If the wind blows more than 18 mph on average on Sunday, Stenson wins. If it's calmer than 18, Phil gets the jug.
Jessica Marksbury, digital editor, GOLF.com: It's gotta be Stenson on Sunday. He shot 68 going toe-to-toe with Phil today, and that was an excellent performance. No real fireworks, but who needs them when you're six shots clear of the rest of the field, excluding Phil? No one posted a lower score than Stenson on Saturday, and I don't see Phil going low to beat him tomorrow.
Peter Bukowski, associate editor, GOLF.com: Henrik Stenson has always been a ball striking machine, but the way his short game and flat stick have been working this week, I’m inclined to go with the Swede. Mickelson, for as incredible as he was Thursday, was hanging by a thread in his croc skin golf shoes most of Saturday, suddenly showing the misses we hadn’t seen from him early in the week. Feel weird to say, but I trust Stenson more than Lefty right now.
Peter Madden, senior producer, GOLF.com: I think Phil was being somewhat disingenuous when he said that he already has a claret jug, so he's not feeling any pressure, but Henrik is still trying to get the major monkey off his back. He must be squirming. Ad: Phil.
Alan Bastable, executive editor, GOLF.com: What, no one’s expecting a furious charge from Billy Haas? I think we’re gonna see a grind-it-out Sunday from both men. Mickelson seems to be losing control of the exemplary ball-striking he exhibited on Thursday and Friday, and Stenson will be a bundle of nerves. It’ll feel more like a U.S. Open, with Mickelson pulling away late. Two under might do the trick.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I've been saying since Wednesday that Henrik would win, and I'm even more confident in my pick after what I witnessed on Saturday. He's the best ball-striker in the field; most of his shots pierce through the strong winds. And even as Phil seemed on the verge of pulling away time and again, Stenson didn't blink. When he does win, we'll look back at the 14th hole today. Two down after Mickelson made a bomb for birdie, Henrik stuffed one of those piercing iron shots at the par-3. And like that we that, the two were tied again.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, GOLF Magazine: Phil
Josh Berhow, staff producer, GOLF.com: Part of me wants to say neither, but the rest of the field is just so far back it will be tough for them to catch up. I'm picking Stenson to follow in DJ’s footsteps and claim his first major championship. He’ll make fewer mistakes than Phil on the back nine on Sunday.
Sean Zak, assistant editor, GOLF.com: Phil has avoided bogey better than anyone out here, making just four all week. Whenever he seems to get in trouble, he's managed to get up and down with that putter. He's been a phenomenal putter all year, and I think he rides that to a victory Sunday.