(Reuters) - Jack Nicklaus said the battle royal between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at the British Open over the weekend was even more dramatic than his famed 1977 “Duel in the Sun” showdown with Tom Watson.

Stenson and Mickelson traded birdie blow after birdie blow in a remarkable final-round slugfest at Royal Troon on Sunday before the 40-year-old Swede emerged victorious over the 46-year-old American.

The new champion's closing eight-under-par 63 tied the lowest round in a major and his winning total of 264 was a record for any of the 'Big Four' tournaments.

“Some ... have already tried to compare (the) final round to 1977 at Turnberry, with Tom Watson and me in what they called the “Duel in the Sun.” I thought we played great and had a wonderful match," the 76-year-old Nicklaus said.

“On that day, Tom got me, 65-66. Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better. What a great match.”

Mickelson carded a bogey-free 65 to finish runner-up for the 11th time in a major, second only to Nicklaus’ 19 second-place showings in majors.

When Watson edged Nicklaus at Turnberry, they finished 11 and 10 strokes respectively ahead of third-placed Hubert Green.

Stenson and Mickelson finished 14 and 11 strokes respectively ahead of American J.B. Holmes, who placed third at Royal Troon.

“Phil Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Henrik Stenson just played better – he played one of the greatest rounds I have ever seen,” said Nicklaus, an 18-time major champion.

“Phil certainly has nothing to be ashamed of because he played wonderfully. Henrik played well from beginning to end. He drove the ball well; his iron game was great; his short game was wonderful; and his putting was great.

“Henrik was simply terrific. To win your first major championship is something special... but to do it in the fashion Henrik did it in, makes for something very special and incredibly memorable. I'm proud of and happy for Henrik.”

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)