Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Mickelson relishes 'incredible' Masters hat-trick

Phil Mickelson described his third Masters victory in seven years as "incredible".

Champion at Augusta in 2004 and 2006 and with a US PGA title in between, Mickelson put a dreadful start to the season behind him to win by three shots from Lee Westwood with a 16 under par total of 272.

Westwood, unable to hold onto the last day lead, already had third place finishes in the US Open, Open and US PGA, but now he has come third, third and second in the last three majors.

"It feels incredible," Mickelson said.

"I could go on and one, there's so many reasons why, but to win this tournament it's the most amazing feeling and this is a special day."

At the presentation of the green jacket, Mickelson added: "I'll look back on this day as very memorable. It's something I'll always cherish."

Mickelson did not have a single bogey in a final round 67 which secured victory by three strokes from playing partner Westwood.

He added: "I needed to make birdies. There were a lot of fireworks going on ahead of us.

"For me the big key was (hole) 12 again, because just like in 2004 I hit the ball in the same spot, I knew that putt and I ended up making that and that gave me a little advantage heading into 13 and 15.

"Fortunately I was able to reach those in two and make birdies."

Mickelson's wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and the left-hander was thrilled to come through a trying period in their lives.

"It's been an emotional year and I'm very proud of my wife and the fight and struggle she's been through.

"It's been a difficult year and to come out on top in this tournament is very emotional. It feels terrific.

"It is one of the best things we've gone through.

"Last year we've been through a lot, it's been tough and to be on the other end and feel this kind of jubilation is incredible."

Westwood paid tribute to Mickelson after his latest near miss.

"He's been through a hard time just recently and he deserves a break or two," the Worksop man said in an interview televised on BBC2.

"It was quite enjoyable out there. We both struggled off the tee early on, but Phil being the champion he is hit some great shots coming down the stretch.

"His nine iron into 12 and his second shot into 13 was incredible and then he played solid coming in."

Westwood believes Mickelson has proved it is possible to respond from close encounters and anticipates a win will come sooner or later.

"I think I just need to keep doing what I'm doing," added Westwood.

"One of these days the door's going to open for me.

"I've finished third, third, second in the last three majors.

"When I'm playing like this and I'm contending for major championships, I feel like a lucky man.

"I think whenever you come as close as I've come today there's a tinge of disappointment there, but that doesn't last too long.

"Phil was saying he has been that man, finishing second and third and it's a case of persevering.

"One of these days I'll get the breaks and become a major champion, hopefully."

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