Mickelson wins his second Green Jacket
Tournament: US Masters
Venue: Augusta National, Georgia, USA
Winner Phil Mickelsom
Phil Mickelson started Masters week with two drivers in his bag and ended it magnificently today with a second green jacket in his locker and his second title in two weekends.
In a marvellous display of front-running Mickelson held off a succession of challenges in the final round at Augusta National to regain the title which broke his Majors duck two years ago.
The sweet-swinging, 35-year-old world’s best left-hander shot a closing 3-under 69 for a 7-under 281 that was two shots too good for South African runner-up Tim Clark and three clear of world No 1 and defending champion Tiger Woods, World No 3 Retief Goosen, second-round leader Chad Campbell, playing partner Fred Couples and two-time Green Jacket winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who charged up the leader board with a blistering, best-of-the-day 66.
Perhaps more significant than the fact that this was Mickelson’s second Masters, was that his victory means he has now won golf’s last two Major championships, having captured the US PGA in August last year.
And that in turn means, of course, that if he can also capture the US Open in June he will come to the Royal Liverpool club a month later with a chance to emulate Tiger Woods by holding all four major trophies at the same time.
Suddenly the man who for so long carried the tag of “best player never to win a major” cannot stop winning them.
Indeed he cannot stop winning full stop. Last week he triumphed in the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta – by all of 13 shots.
Nobody since Sandy Lyle in 1988 had come to Augusta on the back of a victory and won again. But Mickelson was not going to let that or anything else or anybody else stop him.
His closing 69 gave him a seven-under-par aggregate of 281.
Clark achieved his best-ever finish in a major by holing a bunker shot at the last, leaving defending champion Woods in the distinguished group behind him.
Woods threatened to put the heat on, but just could not come up with the shots – or more accurately the putts – to bring him a fifth title.
Even when he birdied the 13th and 15th they were disappointments. He had been only six and eight feet away for eagles. And after almost acing the 16th, he followed with a three-putt bogey at the 17th.
A closing 30-footer for another birdie merely had him shaking his head. He so wished it and more had come sooner.
“I putted atrociously,” he said. “I am probably going to snap this putter in about eight pieces.
“It was frustrating. I felt in so much control from tee-to-green – the best I have hit it in years and exactly the way you want it in the final round of a major.
“If I had putted well I would have given Phil a battle, but he has done exactly what he needed to do. If I putted normal, today was the day, but I missed them all.”
Mickelson’s play, of course, also extended Europe’s wait for a major winner. Paul Lawrie at the 1999 Open remains the last.
Darren Clarke was only one behind when he birdied the first hole of the closing round, but then had four bogeys in six holes from the fifth and eventually finished with a 77 for three over and only 22nd place.
The Ulsterman had also been right in the thick of things when the third round resumed at 7.45am following yesterday’s rain delay – but although his 72 kept his chances alive it included a triple bogey eight on the 15th, where he put two balls in the water.
Woods’ 10 majors have all come with him at least sharing the lead with a round to go and mounting a successful comeback proved beyond him once more.
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