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Phil wins his phirst Mick-major

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By Jeff Mayfield          Send a link to a friend

[APRIL 12, 2004]  As you could tell from the previous article, it was a magical week at Augusta, Ga. ... Wish we all could have been there. But once again after another outing with my wife's family, we returned in time to pick up Phil Mickelson finishing his final round at Augusta National. It appeared that he was destined for a playoff with the always dominating Ernie Els. Especially with holes 17 and 18 looming on the horizon.  

Phil hit good enough shots to par 17 and head to 18 an almost certain par hole, which would forge a tie with the unflappable Els. Els watched the TV monitors from the scoring booth and casually sat there eating an apple. Then he sauntered on down to the practice area and sank several long putts, readying himself for the inevitable.  

However, this was a different Phil Mickelson. This was the new Phil Mickelson. Seldom will you ever see such a fierce competitor smiling as he walks the final few holes while stalking his first major golf title. Maybe he has learned something. Whatever the case, on this beautiful day he looked like a man on a mission, a man who knew he was going to win. At 18 he blistered a drive like a field goal kicker splits the uprights, right down the middle. The day before he tried to turn one over on 18 and knocked his approach over the green.  


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But not on Sunday. Not only did he go for the middle of the green, he attacked the flag, which is so vintage Phil. His playing partner blasted out of the trap and left his ball three inches behind Phil's, which proved to give the new champion a great read that he needed.

However, Phil was still a good 15 feet away on a tricky downhiller on one of the slickest greens this writer has ever witnessed. Phil wasted no time over his ball and stroked it on its merry and historic path. But the ball began leaking and it looked like we were headed for sudden-death overtime. Somehow, amazingly, the ball kept its path. I will never know how it did that. Well, maybe I do.  

Have you ever seen a happier champion? Have you ever seen a crowd erupt more for one? Happy Easter, Phil... You've won your phirst Mick-major! Nice going. 

[Jeff Mayfield]

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