Mickelson wins Masters and gets long embrace
Published 11:00 am Monday, April 12, 2010
Phil Mickelson soaked up a scene he knows all too well as he climbed the steep hill toward the 18th green at Augusta National to claim another green jacket.
Only when he rapped in one last birdie for a three-shot victory did this Masters get even better.
Standing behind the green — as always — was his wife, Amy, with her long blonde hair and easy smile, their three children at her side.
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She had not been on a golf course since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago, and had stayed in bed most of the week.
“I wasn’t sure if she was going to be there,” Mickelson said.
A week of roars gave way to tears as they hugged for the longest time. Mickelson finally had to let go, and with a single tear trickling down his cheek, headed for the scoring hut to sign his card for a 5-under 67, the official stamp on a most compelling Masters.
“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,” said Mickelson, who tightly grasped his wife’s hand until he headed off for an interview.
This Masters deserved nothing less than a storybook ending.
It began with Tiger Woods returning from a sex scandal, which shattered his image but left his game intact. He captivated crowds by flirting with contention until the putts stopped falling and he tied for fourth. It ended with Mickelson making daring escapes from the trees, delivering a clutch birdie in the heart of Amen Corner, and pulling off a high-risk shot out of the pine straw.
He knocked in an 8-foot birdie putt for a three-shot margin over Lee Westwood, who lost the lead for good with a three-putt bogey on the ninth hole and never got closer than two shots over the final six holes.
“It’s been such an incredible week, an emotional week,” Mickelson said. “And to cap it off with a victory is something I can’t put into words. It’s something we’ll share for the rest of our lives.”
Mickelson finished at 16-under 272, the best score by a Masters champion since Woods in 2001.
Just like his last Masters title in 2006, the outcome was never in doubt as Mickelson arrived on the 18th green. Unlike any of his other 40 victories around the world, there was never this much emotion.
Mickelson shared a long embrace with his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, who took countless trips to San Diego to be with Mickelson as he coped with the uncertainty of cancer — not only Amy’s but his mother, Mary, who was diagnosed the week of his wife’s first surgery.
Mackay sat on the grass, legs crossed like a schoolboy, during the green jacket ceremony. He could barely speak.
“Twenty years from now, nothing will compare to this,” Mackay said.
Westwood was third at the British Open last summer, tied for third at the PGA Championship, and dealt with another close call at the Masters with his highest finish ever in a major. He remains among the best players without one.
“Phil, being the champion he is, hit some great shots coming down the stretch,” said Westwood, who closed with a 71. “He’s been through hard times recently, and he deserves a break or two.”