Introducing, three-time Masters Champion, Phil "Lefty" Mickelson!
Despite a cruel twist of fate visited upon him by the "Golf gods" on the second hole in the final round of the 2010 Masters, Phil Mickelson still managed to play an amazing back nine to score his third Masters championship, and first major since his win in Augusta in 2006.
What was that twist of fate you ask? While attempting a birdie putt on the second hole to move into a tie for the lead with Lee Westwood, a leaf, or a pine cone, or something "natural" landed in the path of his ball on it's way to the cup, knocking it off line and causing Phil to settle for a par.
Something like that wasn't going to keep Lefty down though. He went on to card a birdie on the eighth, and pars on all remaining holes to make the turn at 12 under for the tournament; alone in first place.
Westwood's inconsistency was equally as responsible for Phil's ability to rally for the lead as Phil's consistent play was. After two birdies, three bogeys, and four pars, Westwood went one over on the front nine and relinquished the lead to Mickelson after the first half of the final round.
Phil chose the less stressful way through the front nine. He put together a string of seven straight pars to start the day. He followed with a birdie on eight, but a horrible tee shot on the ninth forced him into scrambling for a great par save, giving him a score of 12 under and sole possession of first place...for about three minutes!
Enter K.J. Choi, who caught fire in the latter stages of the front nine and tied Mickelson for the lead at 12 under after his birdie putt on 10.
Phil struggled with his tee shot again on the 10th, which was even worse than the one on nine. However, in true Mickelson fashion, his superior iron play bailed him out and he made a great up-and-down to save par...again!
Another bad tee shot on the 11th forced Lefty to scramble yet again. He did just that, making a great second shot to put the ball on the green, and give him a long putt for birdie. Unfortunately, he was unable to sink the birdie putt, but two putted to save par for the third straight hole.
On the 12th hole, Mickelson sank a brilliant 20 foot birdie putt to assume the lead all by himself. Choi's poor second shot on 13 into a green side bunker ensured that Lefty had some breathing room.
Anthony Kim continued his incredible run on the back nine, going five under in a four hole stretch to move into second place, one stroke behind Mickelson. Choi's bogey on 13 meant that Kim was all alone there at 12 under.
Another tee shot into the pine needles, behind the trees on 13 meant that Phil would have to scramble again.
And just like the previous three holes, he made an amazing second shot, but this time it left him an eagle opportunity of about seven feet; a tricky, down-hill putt he failed to make. However, he sank the birdie to move to 13 under and a two stroke lead.
After finally getting a decent tee shot on 14, Phil's second shot wasn't as good as normal as it found the second cut of rough around the fringe of the green. After a solid putt for par, he held his ground and maintained the lead.
Hole 15 saw Mickelson make yet another great approach, landing it squarely on the green to give him a legitimate chance at an eagle. He missed the eagle by about four inches and tapped it in for birdie and a three stroke lead over Kim and Westwood.
With a three stroke lead and only three left to play, Lefty put on the cruise control and finished with a par on 16, a par on 17, and a birdie on 18 to complete his quest for a third Masters championship and go "See a man about a Green Jacket!"
Lee Westwood put the inconsistent front nine behind him and made a good run on the back nine to apply pressure on Mickelson, but it wasn't enough to shake the now three-time Masters champion.
After a big hug from his playing partner Westwood, Phil found his ailing wife for a tearful embrace and a kiss. In the interview during the Green Jacket presentation Mickelson said, "It feels incredible." When asked about his wife, he went on to say, "It's been an emotional year, and I'm very proud of my wife to get through what she's gone through."
When last year's winner Angel Cabrera put the jacket on him, Mickelson made the perfect statement to close this chapter in his life. "It fits. It feels great!"
I'm sure it does Lefty!
With this win, Phil Mickelson becomes only the eighth player in history to win this prestigious event at least three times.
Scores by round: 67, 71, 67, 67 - Total: -16, 272 - Winner by 3.
Eagles: 3, Birdies: 16, Pars: 47, Bogeys: 6
Greens hit: 54 of 72 (75%), Fairways hit: 34 of 56 (60.7%), Putts: 116 (1.61 p/green)