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PGA Tour Article
The Masters, Augusta National, Georgia

Mickelson's Masters

 

Phil Mickelson completed his third consecutive round of 69 strokes with a birdie on the eighteenth to avoid a playoff with Ernie Els and become the 2004 Masters Champion at Georgia’s Augusta National on Sunday. He is only the fourth player in the history of the Masters to sink a birdie putt on 18 for victory, following in the footsteps of Arnold Palmer, Sandy Lyle and Mark O’Meara. No longer can they call Mickelson, who has previously won 22 PGA Tour events, "the best player never to win a major". After finishing third at this tournament for the last three years he is now the proud owner of the coveted Green Jacket (left, with Mike Weir) and has vowed to return and play at Augusta every year for the rest of his life, as is his right.

After getting off to a good start by birdieing the second hole and extending their 2 shot overnight lead, the final pairing of Mickelson and Chris DiMarco both then started to drop shots. After six holes Mickelson was sharing the lead with Bernhard Langer on minus 4 when Ernie Els (right) eagled the eighth to take the lead by one shot on minus 5. Els extended his lead with another eagle on the thirteenth and birdie on fifteen but Mickelson stayed in contention by posting birdies on 12, 13 and 14 and regained a share of the lead at 8 under par with another on 16. With Els now in the clubhouse, Mickelson had two holes left to get the one final birdie he needed. His second shot on 17 left him with a difficult first putt that he was able to leave close enough to secure par. One down one to go.

His drive off the final tee left him in "position A" and when his second shot landed on the green, the roar from the crowd could not have been louder if he had finished twenty inches from the hole rather than twenty feet. Chris DiMarco (left) played his approach into the bunker guarding the front of the green and after failing to get out at the first attempt he played a shot more appropriate in a President’s Cup team match. By leaving his ball inches behind Mickelson’s marker he gave his playing partner the chance to read the line of his impending championship putt.

The winning putt was played with perfect weight and dropped into the left edge of the cup sending 33 year old Mickelson into a celebratory star-shaped leap (right) worthy of the fittest of high school cheerleaders. His 31 strokes on the back nine, 69 on the day, brought his final total to 279, nine under par, one shot ahead of long-time final round leader Ernie Els who carded a 67 on Sunday for a total of 280.

Third place was taken by Korean K. J. Choi, who pulled back the two strokes he dropped on the front nine by making an eagle from the fairway on the 11th. He went on to make birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th holes to card a 69 and a tournament total of 282, three shots behind the winner. Choi is pictured on the left retrieving his ball after the eagle on 11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Europeans shared fourth position, twice Masters Champion (1985 & 1993) Bernhard Langer from Germany (above left) who shot a par final round of 72 and Spain’s Sergio Garcia (above right). Garcia recorded the best round of this year’s Masters, 6 under par 66, to go from 3 over par at the start of the day to finish with a 3 under par total of 285.

Sixth place was shared by no less than seven players who each recorded a tournament total of 286, 2 under par. With their final round score after their names, they were; Vijay Singh (69) and Fred Couples (70) who are both former Masters champions, Davis Love III (70), Nick Price (70), Kirk Triplett, (72 including a hole in one on the 16th, photo right), Paul Casey (74) and overnight leader, Chris DiMarco (76).

Padraig Harrington, winner of Wednesday’s warm-up event on the par-3 course, also shot a hole in one on the 16th on Sunday (left) and finished with par 72 for the day, par 288 (T13) for the week.

 

 

Top amateur for this year’s Masters was 19 year old Casey Wittenberg (right), who tied for 13th position (even par 288) with Harrington, Retief Goosen and Charles Howell III. Wittenberg finished in style by matching Phil Mickelson’s final day back nine score of 31 strokes to complete a last round of 69.

 

 

23 year old Englishman Justin Rose (left), who held the lead for the first two days but dropped down the field after a disastrous 9 over par round of 81 on Saturday, finished with a 71 for a share of 22nd place.

The defending champion, Mike Weir, failed to make the cut, as did other 2004 winners John Daly, Adam Scott, Jonathan Kaye, Chad Campbell and Craig Parry. Tiger Woods finished tied for 22nd place with a 2 over par total of 290 which included two rounds of 75 on Thursday and Saturday.

Mickelson’s victory makes him the sixth consecutive first-time major winner, something which has never happened before in the history of the PGA. He is also only the third left-handed major winner and was presented with his Green Jacket by last year’s Masters champion, fellow leftie Mike Weir. New Zealand’s Bob Charles is the only other left-handed golfer to win a major championship (1963 British Open). Mickelson increased his record to eight top-ten finishes from 9 starts in 2004 (last 3 consecutive) and his earnings of $1,170,000 extends his lead at the top of the PGA Tour and World Money Lists with official prize money so far this year of $3,488,600.

Read more about Phil Mickelson in this week’s Player Profile

 

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