Henrik Stenson’s duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon was great. But how great? Historically great, at least according to Jack Nicklaus who called it the best of all time.
The Golden Bear’s seal of approval is significant. The numbers also back it up.
We detailed the record-breaking performance on Sunday. On Tuesday Columbia University professor and GOLF contributor Mark Broadie unveiled his own analysis, stating that Stenson and Mickelson combined to give the greatest major performance since 1983 (as far back as his numbers went).
The two players combined to gain 54.2 strokes on the field, 28.6 for Stenson and 25.6 for Mickelson. And they blew the doors off the second-place duo on the list, Larry Nelson and Tom Watson at the 1983 U.S. Open, who combined to gain 45 strokes on the field.
According to Broadie, not only was this the best performance relative to the field in recent major history, it’s No. 1 with a bullet.
Mickelson, as you might expect, is a part of four of the 10 greatest two-man duels, finishing runner-up in all of them. Tiger Woods is on the list three times, with two wins and a loss to Rich Beam at the 2002 PGA Championship.
It should also be noted that Stenson’s stellar play on its own is the second-best performance—relatives to strokes gained—over the same time period, only behind Tiger Woods’s incredible 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Woods is also third on the list with his breakout win at the 1997 Masters.
See the full lists below, via Broadie’s Twitter feed.