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Mickelson Cruises to Victory at BellSouth

BellSouth ClassicDULUTH, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson ran home a 25-foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole Sunday to win the BellSouth Classic by 13 strokes.
'It it was a fun day, but I didn't try to think about winning by 11 or 13,' said Mickelson, who earned $954,000 for the win. 'I wanted to make sure I was able to come through today because anything can happen, and even though I had an eight-shot lead, I just didn't want to get things going sideways on a golf course like this that can be so penalizing.'
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson completed a record-setting performance at the BellSouth Classic in Georgia.
Mickelson set many records this week on the TPC at Sugarloaf, en route to finishing at 28-under-par 260. Mickelson set the tournament scoring record by 10 strokes.
After tying the 18-hole record with his 63 in the first round, Mickelson set a new 36-hole record with his 128 total. That was one better than Larry Nelson was in 1988. Mickelson matched Nelson's 54-hole scoring record of 195. Nelson posted 195 in 1988 at the Atlanta Country Club, the former site of this event.
Mickelson, the 2004 Masters champion, won this event for the third time. Both of those wins came when the event was weather-shortened and ended in playoffs. After his win here last year, Mickelson finished 10th at the Masters. Tiger Woods will defend his crown at Augusta this coming weekend.
Jose Maria Olazabal, who lost in a playoff to Mickelson here in 2005, closed with a 69 to share second place at minus-15. Zach Johnson birdied the final hole to shoot 70 and share second with the Spaniard.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen fired a closing 66 to end at 14- under-par 274. He finished alongside J.J. Henry, who posted a 68 in the final round.
Mickelson opened with a 5-foot birdie putt on the second. After a par on the third, the defending PGA champion two-putted for birdie on No. 4.
The 35-year-old chipped his third to the par-5 sixth to 4 feet and dropped in that birdie putt to get to 23 under.
Mickelson missed the green at the eighth and was unable to save par. Around the turn, he got that stroke back with a two-putt birdie on the 10th.
At the short par-4 13th, Mickelson drove the green and kicked in that 4-foot eagle putt to climb to 26 under. He came right back with another birdie on the 14th to go 12 strokes clear of Jonathan Byrd.
Mickelson tripped to a bogey at 15, then parred his next two holes. He then reached the par-5 18th in two. Mickelson stepped up and ran home his 25- foot eagle putt to end at 28 under.
That last eagle meant Mickelson ended with 31 birdies, one birdie shy of the tour record. He won for the 14th time in 19 tries when leading after three rounds.
'It was certainly a fun week,' Mickelson said. 'I was very pleased with the way I played obviously and I felt like I was playing well at The Players Championship. I had some good practice days, but it really means a lot to actually have the scores reflect the way I felt I was playing.'
Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, was even par through his first nine holes with two birdies and a double bogey. On the back nine, where he had putter problems in the final round in 2005, the Spaniard ran off three birdies in a four-hole span from the 13th to get to 15-under.
Johnson was 2-over par at the turn after three bogeys and a birdie. He climbed into a share of second place as he birdied each of the last four holes.
Byrd struggled with his putting down the stretch with three bogeys in the last four holes to post 1-over 73. He ended alone in sixth at 12-under-par 276. Richard S. Johnson, Doug Barron and Shane Bertsch were one stroke further back at minus-11.
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