Mickelson claims third green jacket

By Doug FergusonApril 12, 2010, 2:46 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Phil Mickelson ended a trying year by shooting a 5-under 67 for a three-stroke win over England’s Lee Westwood and an emotional third Masters title Sunday.

As Mickelson strolled up to the 18th green, his third green jacket as good as won, he wondered if his wife would be waiting for him.

She’d been there the first two times he won the Masters, but he would’ve understood if she decided to skip this victory celebration.

Yet there she was, waiting with an embrace they’ll remember for a lifetime.

Phil and Amy Mickelson
Phil Mickelson gives wife Amy a kiss after winning the Masters. (Getty Images)

“I normally don’t shed tears over wins,” Mickelson said, his eyes watering. “When Amy and I hugged off 18, that was a very emotional moment for us. I’ll cherish every moment of this week.”

Eleven months ago, Amy Mickelson was diagnosed with breast cancer. While the prognosis is good, she’s worn down physically. It’s difficult to get out among the crowds at a place like Augusta National.

“She didn’t feel well and she doesn’t have energy,” her husband said. “To have her here and share this moment and share the joy of winning on 18, and to share this with my kids, is something that we’ll look back on the rest of our lives.”

So, a tournament that started with the focus on a man who committed serial adultery, ended with a victory celebration that was much more family friendly.

This has been a trying year for Mickelson, who not only dealt with his wife’s illness, but his mother’s, too. She also is battling breast cancer. Not surprising that he’s been distracted from the game he plays for a living.

Mickelson arrived at Augusta National without a top five finish all year. But he’s always felt as comfortable at this course as any other, winning his first major here in 2004, then another two years later. When his family arrived – Amy, their three kids and his mother – Mickelson knew this might be the week he started playing like himself again.

He opened with a 5-under 67. He closed with two more 67s on the weekend. Mickelson played with that same bravado and confidence that has always been his trademark – and often his undoing.

He certainly could’ve gone either way at the par-5 13th hole, where he followed a birdie putt in Amen Corner that gave him the outright lead by pushing his drive into the trees along the right side of the fairway.

Most golfers would have played it safe, punched out into the fairway to give themselves at least a shot at birdie and no worse than par. But Mickelson saw an opening between the trees and decided to go for the green – 207 yards away – with a 6-iron.

“I had a good lie in the pine needles,” Mickelson explained. “I was going to have to go through that gap if I laid up or went for the green. I was going to have to hit a decent shot. The gap was a little bit wider – well, it wasn’t huge, but it was big enough for a ball to fit through.”

Mickelson ripped away with all his might, watched the ball clear the trees and soar through the air, plopping down 4 feet from the flag.

“I just felt like at that time,” he said, “I needed to trust my swing and hit a shot. It came off perfect.”

Even though Mickelson missed the short putt and settled for birdie instead of eagle, that was the hole where he let it be known this tournament was his. He finished with a 16-under 272, three strokes ahead of Westwood and four ahead of Anthony Kim, who shot 31 on the back side for a closing 65.

“It’s one of those shots only Phil could pull off,” said Westwood, who started the final round with a one-stroke lead but wound up just missing another major title. “I think most people would have chipped that one out. But that’s what great players do: They pull off great shots at the right time.”

Mickelson was steady the rest of the way – another birdie at the par-5 15th, pars at the tricky 16th and 17th holes. That way, he could play it safe for once, going with the 3-wood at No. 18 to assure he didn’t spray it up in the trees and cost himself a tournament that no one else could win, but he could still lose.

As the patrons rose to salute a familiar champion who was clearly the sentimental favorite on this day, Mickelson had one person on his mind. She was there, and she was beaming.

“I was just really glad she was there,” he said. “I knew she would be watching. I didn’t know if she would be behind 18. To walk off the green and share that with her is very emotional for us.”

Woods’ wife, Elin, would not have been waiting if her husband had won.

She stuck with her plan not to be at Augusta with their two kids, undoubtedly still grappling with the stunning reports that her husband has been cheating with numerous women.

At the start of the week, Woods hoped that returning to golf from a five-month layoff would return some normalcy to a life that’s been tabloid fodder since the infamous November night car crash.

Plenty questioned if Woods was making the right call, returning from such a long layoff at the first major of the year, without so much as a warmup event. Some wondered if he’d even make the cut.

He did that and so much more, contending for all four days.

But he never made much of a run on Sunday, undone by one wild swing after another and a three-putt bogey from 6 feet at the 14th hole, the sort of mistakes he couldn’t afford facing a four-stroke deficit at the start of the final round.

When Woods walked off No. 18, having closed with a birdie that only assured he would finish in a fourth-place tie with South Korea’s K.J. Choi, his answers were a little terse and clipped.

“I wanted to win this tournament,” he said. “As the week wore on, I kept hitting the ball worse.”

Woods said he will now take another break from golf.

“I’m going to take a little time off,” he said, “and kind of re-evaluate things.”

Westwood said there’s no need to re-evaluate what he’s doing, even though he keeps coming up just short on the biggest stages.

Over the previous seven majors, he finished third three times. Now, he’s been a runner-up.

“When you’ve come close, there’s a tinge of disappointment straight off,” Westwood said. “I was disappointed walking up to the last green, obviously. But once that’s passed, I didn’t do too much wrong today. I can walk away with a lot of positive thoughts and memories from this Masters.”

So can Mickelson.

“I’m in love with this place,” he said. “It brings out the best in me.”

Even sweeter than Phil Mickelson slipping into another green jacket was seeing his wife waiting for him behind the 18th green Sunday at Augusta National with tears streaming down her face.

She had not been at a golf tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago.

He had not looked the same ever since.

A shattered world seemed at peace in the fading sunlight Sunday at the Masters, where Mickelson made one last birdie for a 5-under 67 and a three-shot victory over Lee Westwood.

The conclusion was far more emotional than anyone expected.

“To win this tournament, it’s the most amazing feeling,” Mickelson said from Butler Cabin. “This has been a special day. I’ll look back on this day as very memorable, something I’ll always cherish.”

Determined to win one for his family, Mickelson made two remarkable par saves from the trees, then made a gutsy play off the pine straw and over Rae’s Creek on the par-5 13th hole. It was the kind of shot that has brought Mickelson so much criticism for taking too many risks. This time, nothing was going to stop him.

His final birdie only mattered on the scorecard, 16-under 272, the lowest by a Masters champion since Tiger Woods in 2001. Mickelson had this won as he walked up the 18th fairway to a massive ovation. He raised both arms when the putt fell, had a long embrace with caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay then walked toward the scoring hut and into Amy Mickelson’s arms.

Standing behind them was Mary Mickelson, his mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.
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TT postscript: This 65 better than Aronimink 62

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 9:21 pm

ATLANTA – The start wasn’t much to look at, but that finish was something else. Tiger Woods eagled the final hole on Thursday and shares the 18-hole lead at the Tour Championship. Here are the things you know you want to know:

• First of all, let’s give a pat on the back to the man who most deserves it today: Me. Early this morning, I sent this tweet:

Never doubt my good feelings. Ben Crenshaw doesn’t have my good feelings. We may have 54 holes to play, but I gotta good feeling we’re going to be changing that Tiger Tracker avatar Sunday night.

• Now onto Tiger. After all, he did hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 28 putts. It wasn’t looking good early when he had nine putts through four holes and was 1 over par. But he birdied Nos. 5 and 6, turned in 1 under, and really turned it on down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle over his final seven holes. And if you take a good look at the scorecard below you’ll notice he didn’t make a bogey after the first hole.

• How good is a 65 at East Lake? Better than his opening 62 at Aronimink, according to Woods: “This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is – it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”

Woods added that you had to play “conservatively” and be patient – take what the course allowed. Tiger missed five putts – four of them for birdie – inside 15 feet. But in the 93-degree heat, he kept his composure and made putts of 26 and 28 feet for birdie, and 28 feet for eagle.

• This week feels different. It feels like Tiger is really ready to win again. He seems very serious, very focused. He talked about “getting the W” on Wednesday and said on Thursday, “[T]he objective is to always win.”

After shooting 65, Woods signed a few autographs and eventually made his way to the putting green. If he gets those 15-footer to fall, we’re going to be two wins away from tying Sammy.

• So, what about that eagle on 18, you ask? Tiger said he “hammered” a driver – which was listed at 320 yards – and then hit a 5-wood from 256 yards to 28 feet. As for the putt: “It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.”

Right into the cup. Right into the lead. Our man is making history this week.

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 8:30 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

Woods finished his round with a vintage eagle on the par-5 18th hole, finding the green with a 5-wood from 256 yards out and then sinking the 28-foot putt.

The eagle at the last gave Woods a share of the early first-round lead with Rickie Fowler at 5-under 65.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.

Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters

A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.