The man who won golf’s previous Greatest Duel – that one in the Sun – has no doubts.
“You’re going to ask me, how does it compare to Duel in the Sun?” said Tom Watson of Sunday’s Open finale as he arrived at Carnoustie for this week’s Senior Open.
“It was better. It was better. You just look at the facts, the facts of the matter: Henrik shot 8-under par in the last round of a very tough golf course; Phil shot 5-under, no bogeys.
“It was a shootout right from the start. Great shot after great shot. Great putt after great putt.
“It was one for the ages. It was really something special and we live for that.”
The legend will live as long as his battle with Jack Nicklaus, Tom believes.
“The aura of this championship won’t wear off, “ he continued. “People, when they talk about The Open, they will say, `yeah, Stenson and Mickelson at Troon.’
“Henrik, he was overdue to win a major championship. Mickelson, he’s not over the hill. He’s obviously playing very well.
“Jack and I, we had a pretty good contest. But you look at the facts, they were 13-under and Jack and I were 9-under. If you had to rank it, you had to rank that above ours, that’s for sure.”
Back to Carnoustie where he won the first of his five Opens, Watson is struck by how little has changed.
“The first description I had of Carnoustie was `it’s the toughest course in the rotation’ and it still is,” he said. “It makes you play every hole, there is no letup, anywhere, on the golf course.
“Every hole, every shot, has an issue to it, and you have to deal with those issues when you play this golf course.
“It’s unchanged. You look at the tees and you think, did we play these back in 1975 or did they add a few yards to these tees? You can’t see the difference.
“The 18th hole played a little bit longer. The tees have been moved back a little bit but the rest of the courses remain the same here.”
His win came when he “was new at this game and still new at winning”.
“I practiced harder than anybody, and things fell into place that week with my golf swing and as luck would have it, I had an opportunity to win.
“I made the putt on the last hole, because I knew I had to make that. I was three shots behind with four holes to go but I knew the last four holes here were going to take their toll, which they did.
“Bobby Cole lost out, Johnny Miller, Jack, they all lost out pretty much on the last four holes. I kind of kept it together and made the play-off.
“In my youth, it was a hugely exciting time to win The Open here. I didn’t know the magnanimity of it, the magnitude of it, until maybe a little bit later.”
At 66, Watson still feels competitive in the Seniors game, although he admits that he “sense the length, the speed go four years ago”.
He’s more accepting of the honorary role he has, like accepting life membership of Monifieth Links last night, where he hit his first shot in links golf 41 years ago. But he wouldn’t be here if he thought he couldn’t compete.
“Carnoustie, you’d better drive the ball well, it’s imperative here,” he said.
“That’s what I’m going to do right after I leave here, I’m going to go to the practice range and make sure that that driver is the best it can possibly be, because I have to have the trust in it that I can do what I need to do with the driver to put it in play.”