Ranking Phil Mickelson's Greatest Moments

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystJuly 21, 2013

Ranking Phil Mickelson's Greatest Moments

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    Phil Mickelson surged up the leaderboard on Sunday at the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield, stealing the show from several aspiring champions and solidifying his legacy as an all-time great. A five-under 66 vaulted him to a three-stroke victory, the fifth major title in his Hall of Fame career.

    Lefty has been in the limelight for decades, evolving as a golfing superstar since his amateur days at Arizona State. Mickelson may have once been known as a man who couldn't quite win "the big one," but those days are long gone.

    Now that he's notched another career milestone, let's examine the greatest moments of Mickelson's reign as a member of golf's global elite.

9. Mickelson Closes out 2007 Players Championship with Outstanding Sunday

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    Mickelson showed he was ready to routinely outmatch the PGA Tour's top title contenders with an impressive final round at the 2007 Players Championship. His 11-under-par performance gave him another tournament victory, which occurred on the first Mother's Day in which his wife wasn't present.

    He shot a three-under 69 on Sunday to seize the win, which occurred in the midst of his strongest stretch as a pro. By now, the PGA community understood that Mickelson must be taken seriously at every event.

8. National Championship Highlights Illustrious College Career at Arizona State

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    Mickelson made a name for himself more than a decade before his first major title, dominating national competition throughout his collegiate career at Arizona State University.

    From the start of his freshman campaign in Tempe, Ariz., Mickelson outclassed his opponents. He captured three consecutive individual national titles from 1990 to 1992, earning honors as the Haskins Award winner (Most Outstanding Collegiate Golfer) at the conclusion of each season.

    Mickelson, just the second four-time All-American golfer in history, led the Sun Devils to the 1990 NCAA National Championship. Arizona State has hosted several superstar student-athletes in its history, but few can match the accomplishments of this golfing prodigy.

7. Mickelson Gets the Better of Tiger Woods on Way to Title

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    For much of his career, Mickelson has been known as the second-best player on the planet. Tiger Woods reigned supreme during Lefty's peak years and routinely outmatched him when the two were paired together at tournaments.

    Mickelson never shot better than Woods when they played together in final-round action until the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship. He wound up two strokes ahead of Tiger on the last 18 holes en route to a win at the FedEx Cup playoff event.

    It was another sign of Mickelson's emergence from Tiger's shadow.

6. Mickelson Wins Emotional Tour Championship

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    Mickelson capped off an emotional 2009 season by finishing on top at The Tour Championship. It was the second time he claimed a win at the year-ending event, but this one was special for significant personal reasons.

    His mother and wife were each diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, forcing the star to take multiple hiatuses from the sport. His three-stroke victory over Tiger Woods left members of the gallery standing, and fellow golfers praising Mickelson's resolve.

    You didn't need to be a golf fan to feel chills as he walked off the course in triumph.

5. Mickelson Reaches New Heights with Another Masters Victory.

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    A win at the 2006 Masters launched Lefty to a career-best second place in world golf rankings. He put together a three-under effort on Sunday at Augusta, topping Tim Clark by two shots.

    It was Mickelson's third major championship in three years after so many close calls. The win erased any doubt about his ability to come up big in Round 4.

4. Phil Wins 3rd Masters

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    Mickelson capped off his third Masters title in seven years by planting a passionate kiss on his wife, Amy, in front of a national audience. One year removed from her breast cancer diagnosis, it was a touching moment that provided a punctuation mark at the end of an epic 2010 tournament.

    Mickelson made a dramatic run in the third round, which ended with Lefty trailing Lee Westwood by one stroke. He posted a 67 on Sunday to capture the title, playing the entire final round without registering a single bogey.

3. Mickelson Wins PGA Championship on Monday

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    At the 2005 PGA Championship, Mickelson proved that his 2004 Masters title wasn't a flash in the pan. He claimed a second major victory with a masterful performance on a pressure-packed bonus day at Baltusrol.

    Messy weather extended the final round into Monday. Mickelson didn't miss a beat and flourished on the final hole.

    He landed a softly laid pitch on the green, setting up a birdie putt that provided Lefty with a one-shot lead. The advantage held up and Mickelson went home a major champion yet again.

2. Mickelson Charges Late at Muirfield

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    Mickelson took home his fifth career major and first Open Championship title with a dominant final round at the 2013 British Open. He posted a five-under 66 on Sunday to finish at three under for the tournament.

    He was the only player in the field to finish under par, closing out his first major victory in three years. Mickelson's score matched the lowest single-round total during the tournament at Muirfield.

1. Mickelson Gets Monkey off His Back with Masters Win

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    Before Lee Westwood, there was Phil Mickelson.

    Despite immense success and consistent contention, Mickelson built a reputation as a star golfer who simply couldn't seal the deal on the game's greatest stage. He owned eight top-three finishes in major tournaments before claiming a green jacket at the 2004 Masters. (With a third-place tie at the 2013 Open Championship, Westwood has matched that total of title teases.)

    Mickelson buried an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to top Ernie Els at Augusta, becoming the third left-hander to claim a major victory.