It was no ordinary Masters, then again, when is it ever? But the 2010 edition of the annual golf rite of spring had an extra spark this year. There was the Tiger return and drama to start the week but all the turmoil regarding that subject fell rapidly aside once the golf began and the stories that deserved focus came to light.
The table was set on Thursday. While everyone looked to the world’s best player and how he would play during his first competitive round in 20 weeks, the complete cadre of golf talent covering many decades emerged as the big Masters tale. A record worldwide audience witnessed two Champions Tour members and Green Jacket recipients climb to the top of the leader board and create massive expectation for the three days to follow. Fred Couples and Tom Watson would both eventually fade – with Couple hanging on to a hope of a win into early on the back nine on Sunday, but they both made a statement that Augusta National Golf Club is still open to assault by champion golfers of any age.
By the time the final round dawned, as much anticipation as I have ever witnessed in my 30 years of watching The Masters was clearly recognizable around the world. Golfers, non-golfers, the young, the old – there was a lot of people talking about one golf tournament in Georgia.
And it did not disappoint. By the day’s end, when Phil Mickelson made his last birdie to push him to -16 (67, 67, 71, 67 – 272) and the win, even the non-Phil fans had at least respect what he had accomplished.
Now with 38 PGA Tour wins, and four major championships, including three Masters titles (2004, 2006, and 2010), he has proven that he is indeed one of the best players of his generation.
And like Lefty has done for most of his career, he took viewers and golf fans on a wild ride all the way to the finish.
He did not make a bogey on Sunday but if you had only caught fleeting moments of the broadcast and multiple images of him flirting with the woods, you would have assumed that he had imploded in a major way.
Near the turn on Sunday, with pressure mounting from the likes of K.J. Choi, Lee Westwood, and even Tiger Woods, Mickelson was steadfast in his pursuit of this Masters. Par saves on 9, 10, and 11 kept him ahead of the pack – all leading to a pivotal moment on the 13th hole.
Facing 207 yards left to reach the green in two, Mickelson would have to challenge not only the yawning Rae’s Creek protecting the green but a golf ball resting on a bed of pine needles in the tree line. Taking up his 6 iron he blasted the ball to the putting surface, just four feet from the hole from where he would birdie.
“I had a good lie in the pine needles,” he said later. “I was going to have to go through that gap if I laid up or went for the green. I was going to have to hit a decent shot. The gap was a little bit wider—it wasn't huge, but it was big enough, you know, for a ball to fit through. I just felt like at that time, I needed to trust my swing and hit a shot, and it came off perfect.”
Where others might have failed, Mickelson completed the mission and from there played more steady golf on the way to the clubhouse and a three-stroke victory.
But even as Phil’s resume was being embellished with another major title he made it clear that the week was important in so many other ways. Especially to a family that in the last year saw Phil’s wife Amy and his mother Mary bravely face down the spectre of Cancer.
“This has been a very special day and a very special week,” Mickelson said following his win. “And to have (my wife) Amy and my kids here to share it with, I can't put into words. It just feels incredible, especially given what we've been through in the last year, to be able to share this kind of joy means a lot to us.”
Mickelson Masters WITB:
Driver: Callaway Golf FT Tour (7.5 degrees)
Fairway: Big Bertha Diablo (15 degrees)
Hybrid: Callaway Prototype (22 degrees),
Irons: X-Forged 4-iron, X-Prototype Irons (5-PW),
Wedges: Callaway JAWS Wedges (53, 60 and 64 degrees),
Ball: Tour ix Golf
Putter: Odyssey White Hot XG Blade
Shoe: Callaway HX Tour Footwear
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)