The Masters

A steady breeze and a star-studded leaderboard were not enough to keep Phil Mickelson from winning his second Masters. The thrills were few and far between as he garnered the green jacket in an eerily Tiger-esque manner. Mickelson finished the final round with a three-under 69, leaving him at minus-seven for the tournament, good for a two-shot victory over Tim Clark (-5) and the likes of Woods, Fred Couples, and Vijay Singh (all at -4). It was a departure from his past tribulations in the majors as Mickelson coasted to the victory instead of depending on final-hole heroics (an 18-foot birdie putt at the 2004 Masters, a ridiculous up-and-down for birdie at the 2005 PGA). He was able to amble up the 18th fairway in his signature, jovial gait. After going 0-for-42 in the majors during his first twelve years on tour, it seems Mickelson has figured out what it takes to triumph in golf’s biggest events. The win marks Mickelson’s third major victory in as many years after winning the 2004 Masters and the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Mickelson was all business on Sunday. His lone bogey during the final round came at the 18th hole, after the tournament was all but his. Teeing off at the last hole with a three-stroke lead, it would have taken a blunder of epic proportions to require even a playoff. This Masters performance resembled several of Woods’ major championships. Mickelson managed to build a lead and cruise to the clubhouse while his fellow competitors crumbled in pursuit. This year it was the likes of Woods, Couples, Chad Campbell, and Singh who made the fatal mistakes: three-putts, lip-outs, and erratic driving. Woods suffered from an unlucky putter, three-putting seven times during the tournament. He had two excellent eagle opportunities within fifteen feet on the back nine, but had to settle for birdies. Couples, playing in the final pairing with Mickelson, was in the best shape of the bunch to challenge for what would’ve been his second green jacket. However, the mistakes piled up and his score reflected it, as he essentially dropped out of serious contention after the 14th hole, his second three-putt of the back nine. With a win Couples would have also surpassed Jack Nicklaus to become the oldest Masters champion, at age 46. “I knew it was going to be a tough day,” Mickelson said. “Fred and I kept saying how much fun it was to be in the final group at the Masters. I was sorry to see what happened at 14. I think we would have had a great duel coming down those last four holes.” Instead of Tiger, the heavy favorite coming into the tournament, on this Masters’ Sunday it was the former ne’er-do-well, Mickelson, who walked off the 18th with the victory and the winning smile. His first Masters title saw a jump for joy. His second saw him walking off the course in relative peace, into the waiting arms of his family. The win is Mickelson’s 29th career victory. It also marks the first time in twenty years that the Masters champion came into the tournament after winning the week before (the Bellsouth Classic). After Mickelson’s first Masters victory many people seemed satisfied with the one major championship as it ended his painful drought. Mickelson had other plans, remarking that he certainly hoped it would be the first of many. He’s proving his point to a “t.”