Mickelson is Masters Champion

By Sports NetworkApril 11, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson drained a downhill, 18-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole Sunday to win his first major championship, the 68th Masters at Augusta National.
Mickelson posted a 3-under 69 and won the title by a shot over Ernie Els. Mickelson finished at 9-under-par 279 and became the fourth player in tournament history to birdie the 72nd hole for the championship.
Mickelson broke an 0-46 drought in golf's four most important tournaments. He finished second twice at the U.S. Open and once at the PGA Championship. Mickelson took third the last three years at Augusta and finished in that position four times overall at the Masters.
That's all over now.
'In the past 10 years, to have come so close and fallen short or having people make critical putts against me, makes this difficult journey towards my first major title so much sweeter,' said Mickelson, who joined Mark O'Meara (1998), Sandy Lyle (1988) and Arnold Palmer (1960) as the only players to birdie 18 for the green jacket.
Mickelson matched Els at 8-under par with a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th, a hole that saw back-to-back aces earlier in the round. Els parred his final two holes, including a nice par save from a fairway bunker at the last.
Mickelson, two groups behind Els, parred the 17th after lagging another difficult downhill putt to a foot.
At the 18th, Mickelson ripped one down the fairway and left himself with 162 yards to the flag. He knocked his approach 18 feet over the flag but had to wait for playing partner Chris DiMarco to play out of a frontside bunker.
DiMarco failed to get out of the bunker in his first try, and ran his second blast to almost the exact spot where Mickelson's ball was. DiMarco putted first and gave Mickelson the line of the putt.
DiMarco missed his putt, but Mickelson studied the line as DiMarco's ball went left near the hole. Mickelson's observations paid off as he played his putt six inches left of DiMarco's and the ball rattled around before falling into the cup.
'There is still a feeling of disbelief but it feels awesome,' said Mickelson, who pocketed $1,170,000 for the victory. 'It is an amazing day, the fulfillment of all my dreams. I will remember that unbelievable back nine for ever and ever.'
Els fired a 5-under 67 to take second place. He was watching and preparing for a playoff when Mickelson sank the birdie putt.
'I played as good as I could,' said Els, who also took second in 2000. 'What more can you do? I guess Phil deserved this one. He played great down the stretch. He made birdie on 16. I heard that roar. And then obviously, I could hear from the crowd's reaction, he hit it pretty close on 18 and then he made a great putt there.'
K.J. Choi took third place at 6-under-par 282 after a final-round 69.
Sergio Garcia scared the leaders on the back nine. He played his final 12 holes at 8 under par for a 6-under 66 and a share of fourth place. Garcia matched European Ryder Cup captain and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer at 3-under-par 285. Langer briefly held a share of the lead Sunday, but fell off on the back nine and finished with an even-par 72.
Tiger Woods shot a 1-under 71 and tied for 22nd at 2-over-par 290. Woods is now majorless since the 2002 U.S. Open, but battled illness early in Sunday's round.
'I was feeling fine when I got here. I had a little sandwich and when I got on the range, I didn't feel too good,' said Woods, a three-time Masters champion. 'I am frustrated because I wasn't in there. It just wasn't there.'
It was there for Mickelson, although not early in the round.
He opened the final round tied for the lead with DiMarco, but tallied a birdie and three bogeys in a five-hole span from the third. Els knocked his second at the par-5 eighth to four feet and sank the eagle putt to move one ahead of Mickelson.
That's how the top of the leaderboard stood until Els made it to the par-5 13th. He hit another beautiful approach with his second and sank a 9-footer for eagle. The South African moved to 7 under par and took a three-shot lead over Mickelson.
Mickelson hit a solid tee shot at the demanding par-3 12th. His shot stopped 20 feet over the flag and he ran home the putt to cut the margin to two shots.
Mickelson had a look at eagle at the 13th but his 20-footer missed the hole. He kicked in the 3-footer for birdie and was back down a shot to Els.
Els drove into the rough on the par-5 15th, then flew the green with his second. He chipped to a foot and tapped in the birdie putt to go back up by two.
Mickelson responded yet again, this time at No. 14. His approach nearly tracked into the hole but he settled for an easy birdie and closed the gap to one stroke.
The left-hander could not birdie the 15th but it looked like Els might come back to him at 16. The South African was 40 feet left of the cup leaving him with a tricky downhill putt. He ran that six feet past the hole, but calmly made the par save to remain one ahead.
Mickelson then birdied 16 and Els made a routine two-putt par at the 17th. Els found a fairway bunker at the closing hole but hit a great iron shot to 25 feet. His birdie try missed left, leaving the door open for Mickelson.
Mickelson stormed through at the last for his second win of 2004 and his 23rd on the PGA Tour.
'All I wanted was an opportunity,' said Mickelson, who became the second left- handed player in a row to win this title after Mike Weir in 2003. 'I tried not to think too much about results. I was very fortunate.
'I will look forward to this first week of April every year the rest of my life.'
Mickelson fired a 31 on the back nine to win the title but Els played brilliantly as well. He posted a 3-under 33 on the final side but it was not enough to give him major No. 4.
'I'm very disappointed now, but I'll get over this,' said Els, who owns two U.S. Opens and a British Open. 'I feel like I'll win a major this year. I would have loved to have won this one. I'm chasing that Grand Slam a little bit in my career. But I'll have another shot, I'm sure of that, if I keep practicing, keep healthy, keep at it, I'll have another shot.'
Kirk Triplett, who along with Padraig Harrington, aced the 16th for a round of even-par 72. He tied for sixth with Davis Love III (70), Nick Price (70), Paul Casey (74), DiMarco (76) and former champions Vijay Singh (69) and Fred Couples (70). That group came in at 2-under-par 286.
Related links:
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''