2010 Masters: Phil Mickelson Dominates the Field in a Tiger Woods-Like Fashion

Bill CodyCorrespondent IIIApril 11, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Phil Mickelson reacts to a birdie putt on the 12th green during the final round of the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

This is why I love sports.

Just when you think an event will devolve into the same cynical morass as political and pop culture, the game itself takes over. 

If CBS had hired writers they couldn't have come up with anything better than the last week at Augusta. This tournament had everything.

Tom Watson bringing back memories of Turnberry last year and Fred Couples bringing back memories of 1992.

Lee Westwood playing solid golf all week and of course, the return of Tiger Woods.

But when push came to shove, it was Phil Mickelson's week. Finishing with a birdie on 18 to win by three strokes over his final round playing partner Lee Westwood.

With all the hoopla surrounding Tiger, Lefty became an afterthought to most sports commentators around the world. Despite being the second best golfer in the world and in some ways a better story.

Phil was coming into Augusta with a less than stellar track record in 2010 following a 2009 year during which both his wife, Amy and his mother, Mary were diagnosed with Breast Cancer. 

But Phil looked very good coming out of the gate on Thursday and stayed in contention through Friday and most of Saturday.

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Then he exploded coming off the Amen Corner on Saturday to make up 5five strokes with a stunning eagle-eagle-birdie run on 13, 14 and 15 to take the lead. 

As amazing as Lefty's explosion was, it might have been even better. He missed a third straight eagle by inches before tapping in for a bird.

But today he was even better. Starting the day one shot back of playing partner Lee Westwood, he quickly erased that deficit and went to the lead.

Then he held on as first, KJ Choi and then Anthony Kim made solid charges at him. It made for an exciting day of golf, but the result was never really in doubt. 

Mickelson has long been known for blowing up on the last day of majors but today he played with confidence.

It was a confidence that I don't think any of us had seen before today. That may seem strange to say about a golfer who has had as much success as Mickelson, but if you're a golf fan you know what I mean. 

Mickelson not only beat back the field on the back nine on Sunday, he cut the hearts out of his fellow golfers with his solid bogey free play. He put his foot on their throats and didn't let them up until me put the Green jacket on at 18. 

And the crowd loved it. The "patrons" of Augusta were on Phil's side the whole day.

Compare that to Tiger's final round. His uncharacteristically sloppy three putt on 14 that all but put him out of contention was symbolic of his entire tournament.

It's not that Tiger played bad golf this week. He was on the leaderboard throughout the final round of a major, after being out for five months after all.

But he left strokes all over the course during the week and he didn't have that killer instinct we've seen from him over the years. And unlike Phil he didn't seem to be having a lot of fun. 

It makes me wonder if we're seeing a changing of the guard. 

It's only one tournament, but you never know.