US Masters: Phil Mickelson claims third Augusta title as Lee Westwood falters
PHIL Mickelson became the thrill-maker once again, pouncing for a third Masters victory in seven years to leave Lee Westwood a nearly man once again.
• Outgoing champion Angel Cabrera helps Masters winner Phil Mickelson into his Green Jacket
Champion at Augusta in 2004 and 2006 and with a US PGA title in between, Mickelson put a dreadful start to the season behind him to win by three shots from the Englishman – with a 16 under par total of 272.
Westwood, unable to hold onto the last day lead, already had third place finishes in the US Open, Open and US PGA, but now he has come third, third and second in the last three majors.
A one-under 71 was never likely to complete the job and, sure enough, Mickelson shot 67 – and then went into one of the longest televised hugs with wife Amy.
And no wonder. Last May she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her battle goes on. This was her first visit to a tournament since the diagnosis last May.
Although Tiger Woods equalled a Masters record with four eagles in his first tournament back for almost five months – two of them came in his rollercoaster closing 69 for joint fourth place – the headlines will go quite rightly to the left-hander.
It started as the week Woods came back to golf, but it ended as the week when Mickelson proved again he is the world number one's biggest rival.
With a pink breast cancer badge in his cap to remind people of the battles both his wife and mother have been fighting, Mickelson captured his fourth major in scintillating fashion.
And two shots above all others will be replayed over and over when the story of this incredible week is retold.
First there was his eagle two on the 14th in the third round as he moved one behind Westwood entering the closing 18 holes. But that was trumped by his second shot to the long 13th yesterday.
One ahead of KJ Choi after the Korean had just taken a bogey six there, Mickelson hit his drive through the fairway into the trees and onto the pine straw.
In front of him was a gap of no more than four feet between two trunks, but in the manner for which he has become known Mickelson decided to go for the 200-yard shot over Rae's Creek.
Spectacularly – even he showed that by raising his club in triumph and then punching the air – he hit it to four feet.
It warranted his third eagle of the week there, but although he missed the putt Choi bogeyed the 14th as well.
Westwood, though, matched Mickelson's birdie to stay two back and still had hopes of making his 50th attempt to win a major the one when he finally broke through. But the Worksop golfer, with third place finishes to his name in the US Open, Open and US PGA, could not match Mickelson's two-putt birdie at the long 15th.
Westwood needed something special after that. He could not become the third player to hole-in-one at the 16th on the day, but he did birdie the 17th and Mickelson's five-footer there was badly needed. It gave him a two-shot lead rather than just on the final tee and once Westwood had missed his 25-foot birdie putt Mickelson holed from eight for a birdie which put the icing on the cake.
Mickelson commented: "It feels incredible. I could go on and on, so many reasons why, and it's the most amazing feeling.
"This has been a special day, something I will always cherish.
"It's been a emotional year and I am very proud of my wife and the fight and struggle she has been through.
"This is one of the best things we have gone through in the last year. We've been through a lot and it's been tough and to be on the other end and feel this kind of jubilation is incredible."
Westwood said: "We both struggled off the tee early on, but being the great champion he is Phil hit some great shots. The second on 13 was incredible.
"He has been through a hard time and deserves a break or two.
"I just need to keep on doing what I am doing. One of these days the door is going to open for me, but there was time (he slumped from fourth in the world to outside the top 250 in 2002) when I didn't want to go out and play or practise and couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"When I am playing like this I feel like a lucky man sometimes. I think when you have come as close as this there is a tinge of disappointment, but that does not last too long."
Westwood, though, paid tribute to Mickelson after his latest near miss.
"He's been through a hard time just recently and he deserves a break or two," added the Worksop player. "It was quite enjoyable out there. We both struggled off the tee early on, but Phil being the champion he is hit some great shots coming down the stretch. His nine iron into 12 and his second shot into 13 was incredible and then he played solid coming in."
Woods, who mixed his two eagles and four birdies with five bogeys, stated: "As the week went on I hit the ball worse." Fourth, of course, was no mean feat given his lay-off and all the attention on his sex scandal, but he added: "I only enter events to win."
He also said he will now take "a little time off and re-evaluate." His next appearance could well be the Players Championship in Florida at the start of next month.
Mickelson's fellow American Anthony Kim, last week's Houston Open winner, charged into third place with a joint best-of-the-day 65 that included a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie run from the 13th.
Woods shared fourth with Choi, while Westwood's compatriot Ian Poulter, the joint halfway leader with him, tied for 10th after weekend rounds of 74 and 73 which were a big disappointment.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west