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This was even better than that round back in the day

Henrik Stenson of Sweden kisses the trophy after winning the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 17, 2016. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
Henrik Stenson of Sweden kisses the trophy after winning the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 17, 2016. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Watching two great athletes at the top of their game compete one-on-one is about as good as it gets. But that's only part of why yesterday's British Open final round was so special. Read on.

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• Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson may not look like body builders. They both may be over 40. And the play a game that often times takes more mental stamina than the physical kind. But the duo put on a show yesterday (and Saturday as well) that will be imbedded in our memories banks forever. How am I so sure? Because it harkened back to something I still remember well, if only through old Sports Illustrateds and ESPN documentaries. The British Open is nothing but history. From Old Tom Morris – and that upstart, Young Tom Morris – through Bobby Jones and the savior, Arnold Palmer. From Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, the Open has more history than any other major sport. Mainly because it's been around the longest. But there is also the great courses it uses and the great players who have graced them. Nothing, however, stands out more than Nicklaus and Watson's Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977. The duo entered Sunday tied after each shot 65 on Saturday that year. Nicklaus shot a 66 on Sunday but it wasn't good enough. Watson shot another 65 and took the Claret Jug back to Kansas City. It was spectacular golf on a sun-baked course (hence the nickname). I'm not sure if I watched the ABC telecast but I do remember reading Dan Jenkins' story in SI and agreeing with one of his premises: It was the best two rounds of golf ever played. The fact they were playing together made it so. One would birdie, so would the other. It was almost a prize fight without blood. But if that 1977 classic was the best, what was yesterday? Even better. Don't take my word for it. Take Nicklaus'. "Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better" he tweeted yesterday. And he's right. Mickleson entered the final day a stroke behind. He shot 65. Never had a hiccup, really. Finished 17 under. And lost by three strokes. Stenson, who had never won a major before, was spectacular, other than two three putts. Wait, what? He three-putted twice and still shot a 63? Yes. A 63, tying the best score in major golf, ever, while your competition, your only competition, is staring at you for 18 holes, is unheard of. He needed to shoot that low of a score. And he did. Heck, when Stenson holed a 51-footer on the 15th hole, all I could think of was the duel in "The Princess Bride." You know, when Cary Elwes was dueling Mandy Patinkin and finally switched to his right hand. It's as if Stenson was telling Phil, "by the way, I can make long putts too." Stenson made another on 18 to account for the final margin but don't get confused. This was a one-on-one battle between two men the likes of which you may never see again. I'm sure that's what someone wrote in 1977.

• Sunday was a bad day to be a fan of Seattle sports teams. The Mariners played like, well, doo-doo, and lost the game and the series to the Houston Astros, one of the teams they need to catch in the American League West. And the Sounders traveled south to face their biggest rivals, Portland's Timbers, and were raced 3-1. I'm glad I wasn't in the Northwest to watch them on TV. I may have to be being a new one today, after removing my shoe from the old.

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• WSU: The Pac-12 is losing the West Coast football talent to other parts of the country. That's not good.

• Empire: It was good day in Spokane, however, as the Empire built a big first-half lead and held off Nebraska, 55-44, to win the Intense Conference final. Now the Empire will face perennial Indoor Football League champion Sioux Falls on Saturday in the United Bowl. Jim Meehan has the game coverage.

• Indians: Everett and Eugene found a way to win Sunday.

• Shadow: The Shadow teams split on the road with the women winning and the men coming up short.

• Golf: You know you are on fire when you can birdie the 16th hole at MeadowWood. That's what Derek Bayley did yesterday in the final round of the Rosauers Open Invitational, taming the monster par-5 as well as the rest of the course, finishing 27 under. Tom Clouse has the story.

• Mariners: Four errors. Ten runners left on base. Poor pitching. An 8-1 loss. That was Sunday for the M's. ... At least Nelson Cruz and Ketel Marte were able to play in the worst game of the year. ... If you are going to read only one Mariner story today, make it Todd Milles' piece on Ken Griffey Jr.

• Seahawks: Was Bobby Wagner disrespected this offseason?

• Sounders: Clint Dempsey was given a red card last match so he didn't get to play in the Sounders' 3-1 loss at Portland. At least the MLS will let him play in their all-star match.

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• Good luck today. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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