There are only two things missing from the career profile of Phil Mickelson.
He is yet to win a US Open, which would complete a grand slam of majors, and he has never been the No1 golfer in the world.
No player has spent more time in the top 10 of the rankings without reaching the summit than Mickelson. On Monday morning, confirmation arrived that the Californian had dislodged Rory McIlroy as No2 behind Tiger Woods, by virtue of Mickelson's memorable Open Championship triumph at Muirfield.
Woods's lead at the top is still substantial – he has won four times this year, after all – but Mickelson could see this as the most viable time to challenge his old adversary. McIlroy's slump, which shows no sign of abating, certainly boosts Mickelson's cause heading into the latter half of the year. Woods proved once again at Muirfield that he is lacking the mental edge that enabled him to dominate at major championships. Time and again, third and fourth rounds have undermined Woods's hopes of adding to his haul of 14; something that should no longer be viewed as a coincidence.
Others displayed similar frailty. Lee Westwood shrugged off his latest letdown on the big stage. So too did Tom Kite time and again before admitting "I have been lying to you guys for years" about being apparently nonplussed by failure when finally lifting aloft the US Open trophy in 1992.
Westwood's latest slip is highlighted as particularly poor given Mickelson, as brilliant as his Sunday 66 was, did not even need to pass the three-under-par total with which Westwood started the fourth round. Mickelson had the luxury of a three-shot win.
Westwood can take solace from the fact the 43-year-old Mickelson, who has five majors to his name, did not win any until 2004. At 40, Westwood has time on his side but his career, otherwise as brilliant as it has been, may be destined to go the same way as Colin Montgomerie's and diminished by the absence of a major.
Mickelson's game, according to his coach Butch Harmon, has benefited simply from adaptation. "The big thing for Phil is that he has now embraced links golf," Harmon said. "It started a few years ago, when he had a chance, when Darren Clarke won [at Royal St George's in 2011].
"He learned to play with the ball more down on the ground, he knew how to keep it under control. I don't think people also realised how important winning the Scottish Open last week at Castle Stuart was, either. It isn't as difficult a course as Muirfield but the environment is the same. You have to control your ball, watch how it bounces and control every other part of your game. That was a special win going to the Open.
"It was very important for him to play conservatively, which is hard for Phil because he is a very aggressive player. I don't think in the past Phil really understood links golf. He was always aggressive and you can't be that way.
"He was as relaxed as I have ever seen him on Sunday morning. Him and Bones [Mackay, Mickelson's caddie] were just laughing and joking. All we spoke about was the rhythm of his swing and that was phenomenal all day Sunday. The way he putted was also unbelievable. It was all pretty special."
Mickelson won £945,000 alongside the Claret Jug, with the £500,000 Scottish Open first prize topping up a highly profitable trip across the Atlantic. He is only the second player in history, after Lee Trevino, to win the week before the Open and go on to win the championship. In 84 major appearances, Mickelson has finished in the top 10 some 35 times. He is only the second left-handed Open winner in history, following the success of Bob Charles in 1963.
Harmon, who has worked with Mickelson since 2007, insists his pupil's East Lothian performance should be afforded its rightful place in history.
"This is the fourth different player I have coached to win this championship," Harmon said. "In 1993, when Greg Norman won and shot 64, I said it was the best round I had ever seen played under the conditions. Phil rivals it; given the golf course, how hard it was to play and everything that was on the line. To go out and shoot five-under to win is pretty special."
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