When Phil Mickelson finally calls it a career -- and let's hope that's decades down the road -- he may look back at the 2010 Masters as the sweetest week of his golf life.
The 2004 Masters was unforgettable because it was the one that proved Mickelson could win major championships, something that his 0-for-46 streak had brought into question.
It had been four years since Mickelson had won a major and he arrived at Augusta explaining why he hadn't taken advantage of Tiger Woods' extended absence. Mickelson had been decent but he's conditioned us to expect greatness.
And he found that at the Masters.
In retrospect, you could find it in his words, before the tournament started and each day it progressed. He talked about how relaxed he felt playing Augusta National and a comfortable golfer is a dangerous one.
Mickelson didn't win the tournament on Saturday but he put his victory into motion with his eagle-eagle-birdie run starting at the 13th hole. He has always been an aggressive player but that approach separated him this week. When he ripped a 7-iron into a difficult spot at the 13th on Saturday, setting up his first eagle, it was the kind of swing and shot that makes a player start thinking that maybe this would be his week.
It was for Mickelson.
He was classic Phil, scrambling for pars at the ninth and 10th holes Sunday and when he rifled a 6-iron between the trees to within four feet of the hole at No. 13 on Sunday, he was Phil in full flight.
We may never fully know how much his wife's illness has affected him. Amy Mickelson was there Sunday afternoon when her husband won his third Masters and it couldn't have been easy.
But it looked right and I imagine it felt right to the Mickelsons and to the thousands of others who have invested themselves in Mickelson's career.
Tiger Woods is awed and admired for what he can do on the golf course. Mickelson is beloved.
Perhaps more now than ever.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Posted by Observer Sports at 9:14 PM