Mickelson wins the Masters

2006-04-10 07:27
Augusta - Phil Mickelson won his second Masters in three years in spectacular fashion, firing a three-under par 69 in the final round Sunday to defeat South African Tim Clark by two strokes.

The 35-year-old American finished 72 holes at famed Augusta National Golf Club in seven-under par 281 to win the year's first major championship.

"I knew it was going to be a long, tough day. But in the end, it was real fun and I ended up playing well," Mickelson said.

Once tagged as the best player to never win a major after going 0-for-46, Mickelson has taken three of the past nine major titles, including his 2004 breakthrough Masters victory and last August's 2005 PGA Championship triumph.

Mickelson became the first man to take two majors in a row since Tiger Woods won the 2002 Masters and US Open.

Retief Goosen finished third

Defending champion Woods, Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal, South African Retief Goosen and Americans Fred Couples and Chad Campbell shared third on 284, one stroke ahead of Fiji's Vijay Singh and Argentina's Angel Cabrera.

Mickelson, who won last week's US PGA BellSouth Classic by 13 strokes, was only the fifth man to win the week before the Masters and then claim a green jacket, a feat not seen since Scotsman Sandy Lyle in 1988.

The winner had to play 31 holes on Sunday, Mickelson finishing his final 13 third-round holes early due to Saturday storms. He led by a shot after 54 holes to reach the final pairing, which has produced the past 16 Masters champions.

Woods struggled in the final round, going one-over through 12 holes before making a late charge in search of a fifth Masters crown and 11th major title.

"It was frustrating," Woods said. "If I would have just putted normal I would have given Phil a little bit of trouble. I lost it out there on the greens. I'll probably go snap this putter in about eight pieces."

Mickelson sank a six-foot birdie putt

Mickelson opened with six pars before birdies at seven and eight sent him to the back nine with a one-stroke lead over playing partner Couples, whose lip out on a tap-in par at the 11th doubled Mickelson's lead.

Both men birdied the par-5 13th but Couples three-putted for bogey from five feet at the par-4 14th and Mickelson sank a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th to grab a four-stroke lead with three holes remaining.

"Fred and I kept saying to each other how much fun it was to play in the last pair in the Masters," Mickelson said. "I was so sad to see what happened on 14. I didn't want to win like that."

Mickelson went over the green on his approach at the final hole and settled for a bogey to capture the green jacket.

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, would have replaced Nicklaus by about three months as the oldest winner in Masters history at age 46.

"My putting was horrible but it wouldn't have mattered anyway. I might have finished second to Phil, that's all," Couples said.

Clark birdied the 18th hole from the bunker to finish a final-round 69 and take second place, his best major finish, but missed out on his bid to equal Gary Player as the only South Africans to win the Masters.

"There's always a little disappointment not winning," Clark said. "Hopefully I'll get another chance."

Woods worried about his sick father

Woods birdied four of the last six holes to make a late charge but missed eagle putts of less than 10 feet at the 13th and 15th and took a bogey at the 17th before a birdie at 18, settling for a share of third.

"I putted attrociously. As good as I hit it, that's as bad as I putted," Woods said. "I felt so in control of my ball tee to green, the best I've hit it in years, and when I got on the greens, I was a spaz."

Woods, who still has never won a major in which he was not leading after 54 holes, was playing with worry about his 74-year-old father Earl, too weak to leave home because of his fight with cancer.

"I'm sure he's watching and is probably a little mad at me for the way I putted," Woods said.

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