Lefty Masters His First Major

Updated: April 11, 2006, 2:20 PM ET
By Bob Carter | Special to ESPN.com

Signature Event
April 11, 2004 - For years, Phil Mickelson had been questioned about his inability to win a major golf championship. The questions ended on a Sunday at Augusta National.

Mickelson, 0-for-46 in majors, trailed Ernie Els by three strokes with seven holes to play at the Masters before he caught fire. Three consecutive birdies on 12 to 14 (while Els birdied 15) and then a 15-foot birdie putt on 16 enabled him to tie the match.

With Els already in the clubhouse with a dazzling final-round 67 (including two eagles), Mickelson conservatively hit a 3-wood into the 18th fairway and then an 8-iron over the flagstick to 18 feet behind the cup. When playing partner Chris DeMarco, who had begun the day tied with Mickelson for the lead, hit his bunker shot to almost the same spot  but just inches farther away  he gave Mickelson a good read on his putt.

The 33-year-old made the most of it, curling in the putt for his fifth birdie in seven holes to complete a stunning back-nine 31. With his third straight round of 69 to finish at nine-under-par 279, Lefty had his first major. He jumped with arms raised, shouting, "I did it! I finally did it!"

"To have it be such a difficult journey to win my first major," he said, "makes it that much more special."

The fans also were overjoyed by the outcome. "Golf is in awe of Tiger," Rick Reilly wrote in Sports Illustrated, "but it's in love with Phil."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • At 18 months, Mickelson began hitting golf balls. At six, he played all day at a par-3 course, and at seven he got his first full set of clubs.

  • His father, Phil Sr., an 8-handicap, taught Mickelson golf in his early years. Mickelson's older sister, Tina, has been a club professional, and his younger brother, Tim, has served as a golf coach at San Diego State.

  • At the 1990 U.S. Amateur at Denver's Cherry Hills, the Arizona State junior beat Manny Zerman, 5-and-4, in the final. He birdied five of the last 12 holes.

  • Mickelson also won his second of three NCAA titles in 1990. Only two other golfers  Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods  have won NCAA championships and U.S. Amateurs in the same year.

  • In March 1994, Mickelson broke a leg and an ankle in a skiing accident. He missed three months of the PGA Tour season but still finished 15th on the tour's money list.

  • He won four tour events in 1996, including the Nortel Open for the third time. He also won four in 2000, including The Tour Championship.

  • Mickelson set a Masters record in 2001 with 25 birdies, two more than Woods, the winner. But he also had two double bogeys and ended up third.

  • Sitting in the clubhouse at the 2001 NEC Invitational, Mickelson offered 25-1 odds on Jim Furyk making a bunker shot. Mike Weir took the bet, Furyk made the shot and Mickelson collected $500. When the bet was reported in the media, he was reprimanded by tour officials.

  • Mickelson did everything but win the 2001 PGA Championship. He shot three straight 66s, then a 68. He was tied for the lead after 69 holes, but hit his drive into a tree on No. 16, three-putted for a bogey and lost by a stroke to David Toms.

  • Mickelson has finished second four times (1996, 2000-02) on the money list.

  • Mickelson told Golf Digest in 2003 that Woods played with "inferior equipment," a comment that received huge media play and briefly cooled the golfers' friendly relationship. Mickelson apologized.

  • In the 2003 Masters, he shot a closing 68 only to finish two strokes out of a playoff.

  • Mickelson had a 69.63 stroke average in 2004, third-lowest of his career. He had a 69.16 in 2001 and 69.35 in 2000. His 13 top-10 finishes in 2004 matched his previous best in 2001.

  • On Nov. 24, 2004, Mickelson shot a 13-under-par 59 at Poipu Beach in Hawaii to win the Grand Slam of Golf. He joined David Duval, Chip Beck, Al Geiberger and the LPGA Tour's Annika Sorenstam as pros who have shot competitive 59s.

  • Mickelson's 60 at the FBR Open in Phoenix on Feb. 4, 2005, was his lowest round in an official PGA Tour event. He went on to win the tournament.

  • He gained his 25th tour victory the next week when he won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

  • Earlier in 2005, Mickelson became the third golfer to reach $30 million in earnings. Woods and Vijay Singh were the first two.

  • At the BellSouth Classic in 2006 -- a week before taking his second Masters title -- Mickelson shot a career-low 260 (28-under-par) and won by 13 strokes. His previous low had been a 262 at the 2004 Bob Hope Classic.

  • Mickelson has a 9-8-3 record in five Ryder Cups (3-2 in singles) and is 6-12-5 in Presidents Cups (0-3-2 in singles). He's also been on two Walker Cup teams and the 1996 Dunhill Cup squad.

  • Mickelson gained a reputation as a know-it-all who liked to exhibit his intellect and recall ability.

  • Asked to pick his worst quality, he once told an interviewer, "I wish I had visceral fat instead of subcutaneous fat. Do you want me to spell visceral and subcutaneous for you?"

  • A big football fan, Mickelson often astounds interviewers with his ability to analyze NFL depth charts.

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