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Phil Mickelson claims third Masters title

Phil Mickelson won his third Masters title, shooting a 5-under 67 Sunday to pull away for a three-stroke win over England’s Lee Westwood.

Even sweeter than slipping into another green jacket for Mickelson was seeing his wife waiting for him behind the 18th green at Augusta National with tears streaming down her face.

Amy Mickelson had not been at a golf tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago and her husband had not looked the same since.

The outcome was never in doubt when he arrived on the 18th green. The conclusion was more emotional than anyone expected.

“I wasn’t sure if she was going to be there,” Mickelson said.

He shared a long embrace with his wife behind the 18th green, and as he walked to the scoring trailer to sign for the lowest score at Augusta in nine years, a single tear trickled down his cheek to his lip.

“In the last year, we’ve been through a lot and it’s been tough. And to be on the other end and feel this kind of jubilation is incredible,” said Mickelson, who tightly grasped his wife’s hand until he headed off for an interview.

Determined to win one for his family, Mickelson made two remarkable par saves from the trees, seized control with a 15-foot birdie putt in the heart of Amen Corner and then made a gutsy play with a 6-iron off the pine straw and over Rae’s Creek on the par-5 13th to set up a birdie. It was the kind of shot that has brought Mickelson so much criticism for taking unnecessary risks.

“It’s been such an incredible week, an emotional week,” Mickelson said. “And to cap it off with a victory is something I can’t put into words. It’s something we’ll share for the rest of our lives.”

There was simply no denying him in this Masters.

His final birdie only mattered on the scorecard, 16-under 272, the lowest by a Masters champion since Tiger Woods in 2001. Mickelson had this won as he walked up the 18th fairway to a massive ovation. He raised both arms when the putt fell, had a long embrace with caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay then walked toward the scoring hut and into his wife’s arms.

Mickelson says his wife’s longterm outlook is good, but the medication has taken a toll on her emotions. They arrived Tuesday, but she stayed in bed most of the week at the house they rented. Even in the final moments, no one was sure if she was coming to the course until she walked toward the 18th green with help from Mackay’s wife, Jennifer.

Standing behind them was Mary Mickelson, his mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.

So ended a Masters unlike any other.

It began with Woods returning from a humiliating sex scandal, which brought a sharp rebuke from Masters chairman Billy Payne and scrutiny of his behavior throughout the week. His wife was not at the Masters for the first time, although Woods performed as though his five-month hiatus never happened. He broke par all four rounds, closed with a 69 and tied for fourth with South Korea’s K.J. Choi, five shots behind.

For Westwood, this was his best chance at winning a major, but he failed to make putts to stay in range.

“Phil being the champion he is hit some great shots coming down the stretch,” said Westwood, who closed with a 71 for his best finish ever in a major. “He’s been through hard times recently, and he deserves a break or two.”

Anthony Kim closed with a 65, the best score of the tournament, and finished alone in third.

Mickelson became the eighth player with at least three Masters titles, and it was the fourth major of his career, breaking out of a pack that had included South Africa’s Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Fiji’s Vijay Singh from his generation.

Woods offset a few signature moments with some poor putting, none more shocking than a three-putt from 6 feet on the 14th hole.

“I finished fourth. It’s not what I wanted,” Woods said in a terse interview with CBS Sports analyst Peter Kostis. “I wanted to win this tournament. As the week went on, I kept hitting the ball worse.”

Asked about his dour mood as his game got away from him, Woods said, “People are making way too much of a deal on this.” He also said he did not know when he would return, saying he needed time off to evaluate.

Mickelson was the only player among the top 10 to play without a bogey in the final round. Right when it looked like it might slip away from him, Lefty came through with two par saves from the trees on No. 9 and No. 10, then pulled away with the 9-iron on the 12th to 15 feet behind the hole.

Woods teased with contention by making two eagles in one round for the second time this week. Most of the day, however, he was always too many shots back to scare anyone.

He was seven shots behind walking down the seventh fairway, then holed out for eagle to begin an eagle-birdie-birdie run that put him within three shots. Woods hit a tree from the middle of a small forest to the right of the 11th fairway, and just when it looked as though he would make a great escape, he missed a 5-foot par putt.

His hopes ended on the 14th when he missed a slick 6-foot birdie putt, then reached over to tap it in and missed that one. Even with an eagle on the 15th, his Masters was over.

Whatever doubts there are about Woods as a person, his golf doesn’t appear to be suffering. It was his first competition in five months, his first time in public since he became tabloid fodder for his rampant infidelity. Yet he performed as if he had never been gone.

Choi’s only consolation was going all four rounds with Woods at Augusta and matching his score. He wanted much more, and for the longest time was poised to give Asia successive majors following Y.E. Yang’s win at the PGA Championship.

He unraveled on the 13th, a hole where he had made birdie the previous three rounds. From the fairway, he tugged his approach into the back bunker, leaving him a frightening shot down a steep slope toward Rae’s Creek. He barely got it out of the sand, then three-putted for a bogey. Another bogey followed on the 14th.

Kim, who set a Masters record last year with 11 birdies in the second round, came out of nowhere. He played a four-hole stretch starting on the 13th in only 11 shots—an eagle and three birdies—and finished with two strong pars to post at 12-under 276.



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