AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson delivered a dazzling array of breath-taking shots en route to a third U.S. Masters title but his magical six-iron at the par-five 13th in Sunday’s final round will live longest in the memory.
Facing a four-foot gap between two pine trees after a wayward drive, Mickelson conjured an audacious blow that propelled the ball 207 yards over the menacing water of Rae’s Creek to land softly three feet from the cup.
Playing partner Lee Westwood, who had also ended up in the pine trees to the right off the 13th tee, could only shake his head in disbelief.
“It’s one of the few shots, really, that only Phil could pull off,” the British world number four told reporters after finishing runner-up to Mickelson, three strokes adrift.
“I think most people would have just chipped that one out. But that’s what great players do, they pull off great shots at the right time.”
Mickelson, long known as Phil the Thrill for his spectacular and, at times, foolhardy shot-making, felt the risk-reward factor had been in his favor.
“I had a good lie in the pine needles,” the American said.
”I was going to have to go through that gap if I laid up or went for the green. I knew I was going to have to hit a decent shot.
“The gap was a little bit wide. It wasn’t huge but it was big enough for a ball to fit through,” he said with a flashing smile.
“I needed to trust my swing and hit a shot, and it came off perfect.”
Asked if his long-serving caddie Jim Mackay had supported his decision to go for the green in two, Mickelson replied: ”He didn’t try to talk me out of it.
”We were in between a six or five-iron because sometimes, out of the pine needles, the ball will come out a little slow.
“I just felt like it was clean enough that it was going to come out fine and I wanted to hit something hard, so I hit six.”
Mickelson’s stunning stroke did not gain the reward it deserved as he surprisingly missed the three-footer for eagle before holing out for birdie from a similar distance coming back.
That six-iron, however, will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to have witnessed it, and the shot may well end up being commemorated at Augusta National with a plaque.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury