Mickelson wins first Major

Updated: October 14, 2005, 9:35 AM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

April 11, 2004

For years, Phil Mickelson has 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, trails Ernie Els by three strokes with seven holes to play at the Masters before he catches fire. Three consecutive birdies on 12 to 14 (while Els birdies 15) and then a 15-foot birdie putt on 16 enables him to tie the match.

With Els already in the clubhouse with a dazzling final-round 67 (including two eagles), Mickelson conservatively hits 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, hits his bunker shot to almost the same spot - but just inches farther away - he gives Mickelson a good read on his putt.

The 33-year-old makes 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 has his first major. He jumps 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 says, "makes it that much more special."

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