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No more dreaming for new Open king

By Carl Markham

Open champion Henrik Stenson fulfilled a boyhood dream in lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Troon.

Ever since the Swede started playing as an 11-year-old it was footage of The Open and also the Ryder Cup which inspired him in his goal to become a professional golfer.

A final round of 63, outscoring rival Phil Mickelson by two as the pair played some brilliant golf, saw the 40-year-old become only the second player ever to finish a major on 20 under par, equalling the record set by Jason Day in last year's US PGA Championship, beating the Open record of 19 under set by Tiger Woods in 2000.

He became only the second man to shoot 63 in the final round of a major, matching the feat of eventual winner Johnny Miller at the 1973 US Open at Oakmont, and his 72-hole total of 264 also beat the best in any major set by David Toms in the 2001 US PGA and was three lower than the previous Open record set by Greg Norman at Sandwich in 1993.

"It's a dream come true as a young kid - well, not that young," said Stenson, who became the first Swede to win a major and ranked the occasion as only behind the birth of his three children.

"I was 11 when I started playing but it was Ryder Cup and The Open Championship, those were the big early memories I had, so to sit here and hold this trophy is really amazing.

"I feel very privileged to be the one to hold this trophy.

"There's been many great players from my country tried in past years and decades and there's been a couple of really close calls.

"Jesper (Parnevik) in particular twice so he sent me a message, 'Go out and finish what I didn't manage to finish' and I'm really proud to have done that.

"It's going to be massive for golf in Sweden with this win."

Stenson has come up short on a couple of occasions, most notably three years ago when Mickelson birdied four of the last six holes to pip him at Muirfield, but this time around he felt it was his destiny.

It was more than just reward for a player who has gone through two career slumps, the most recent as 2011 when he dropped to 230th in the world rankings.

"The second slump in my career was nothing compared to the one I had in the early 2000s," he added.

"I managed to put my game together with a lot of hard work and a lot of help from my team and support from my family and friends and everyone else. If I didn't believe I wouldn't be sitting here. For some reason I felt like this is my time - and it was.

"It's not something you want to run around and shout but I felt like this was going to be my turn.

"It makes it even more special to beat a competitor like Phil."

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