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Magic Mickelson dashes Westwood dream

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Rob Hodgetts | 02:49 UK time, Monday, 12 April 2010

Phil Mickelson is the man Tiger Woods vowed to become.

Mickelson proved that you can be a class act and still win. The contrast between the pair could not be more stark.

Woods, emerging from a self-imposed break following his sex scandal, said at the beginning of the week that he would mend his ways. That he would be more aware of those around him, that he would treat the game with more respect. If wins came along, fine, but they would be irrelevant if he was not a better man. The jury is still out as to whether he has begun to change for the better.

But Mickelson is the total package. A family man, loved by fans for genuinely engaging with them, a brilliant player, an accomplished winner.

"Phil's like Arnie [Arnold Palmer], he knows how to charm people," said John L Sullivan, of Pittsburgh, the man who Woods hit with an errant drive on the 11th. According to Mr Sullivan, Woods didn't even acknowledge him despite the "welt" he inflicted, Woods's caddie Steve Williams did throw him a ball. "Tiger's changed? I don't think so," he said.

mickelson.jpgWestwood congratulates Mickelson after his victory at Augusta

But when Mickelson also hit someone on the same hole, he bounded over, grinning from ear to ear and handed the guy a glove, with a bit of banter thrown in for good measure.

Woods was warmly welcomed back by the Augusta crowd and he is clearly trying to be more engaging, though it obviously doesn't come easy. Not everyone can be open and still maintain their focus, and he claimed after his final round that the issue is "becoming overblown", insisting it is unfeasible to expect him to appear happy when he is not playing very well.

The 14-time major champion will now take time off to revaluate his future and the golfing world will wait on tenterhooks to find out where we will see him next. Whichever Woods turns up, the game is clearly richer for his presence. And anyone who can finish tied fourth at the Masters after that long off is no ordinary golfer. Although we knew that anyway.

Mickelson may trail Woods by one Green Jacket - three to four (only Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have more) - but he is fast-becoming Mr Masters, with four thirds and two fifths also to his name. "I am in love with this place and it brings out the best in me," he said.

After the fireworks of his back-to-back eagles which reignited the Augusta roars on Saturday, Mickelson conjured one of those special shots that will be talked about for years as he put his stamp on the tournament during the final round.

After driving into the pine needles at the corner of the 13th, he hit a six-iron through a gap between two trees, over Rae's Creek and to within three feet to set up an eagle, although he would miss the putt.

"How big was the gap?" he was asked. "It wasn't huge but it was big enough for my ball to fit through," Mickelson replied modestly, before adding that it wasn't as tight as it might have seemed from beyond the ropes or on TV. "About five feet." It was the sort of shot that commands a plaque, or at least a name.

With all the hullabaloo over the Woods affair, it was easy to forget that Mickelson has also endured a difficult year since he was last at Augusta, after both his wife Amy and his mother were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Amy was waiting behind the 18th green and the pair hugged in tears. Mickelson described the victory, after coming so close at a poignant US Open last year shortly after the diagnosis, as a "very emotional moment and something I shall cherish".

Mickelson now has four major titles but he was stuck as "the best player never to have won a major" after a string of second and third places before his breakthrough victory at the Masters in 2004.

That was his 12th appearance at Augusta, so when he consoled Lee Westwood in the scorers' hut afterwards he was coming from a position of experience. The Englishman, playing in his 11th Masters, went into the final round with a one-shot lead and a maiden major title beckoning. He kept fighting to the end but his one-under 71 couldn't match Mickelson's magical 67. In fact, make that three 67s.

Westwood has now finished second, third, third in the last three majors and was third at the US Open in 2008. He must surely now be deemed the best player in world golf without a major title. It's a back-handed compliment but one Mickelson feels sure he will put right soon.

"I've been in that position and it sucks," he said. "But I also told him that he is playing some of the best golf of anybody in the world, he's an incredible player and I pull for him because I want him to win his first major soon, because he is that kind of talent and a quality guy."

Westwood would have become the first Englishman to win the Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996, and the first Briton to win a major since Paul Lawrie clinched the Open in 1999. The search goes on, though Westwood can rest assured he didn't wilt or throw it away. Mickelson won it in his own swashbuckling style. And Westwood is certain it is only a matter of time before he clinches a big prize.

"I didn't do too much wrong," he said. "I can walk away with a lot of positive thoughts and memories from this Masters. The more I get closer to winning these majors the more I want the next one to come around. Law of averages says the door is going to open one day."

His down-to-earth humour was already returning when a questioner began: "Phil..."

Westwood fired back: "I'm Lee. Phil is coming in a minute. He'll be wearing a green jacket."

British fans may have yearned for a Westwood win, while a Woods victory would have been another twist in a remarkable tale.

But Mickelson's Masters was the heart-warming story to end a week that began with so much angst and unseemly clamour.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I agree with your comments on Mickleson and there is no question but that he is the most worthy of winners - at Augusta and in life - few if any will begrudge him and the lift it provides for his wife and family. I thought Kim might win but clearly his time will come but on the issue of those destined to win, there are 2 major non-Major winners that are underscored after this Masters. First, Ernie Els - this man is one of the biggest non achievers of all golfers of all time. His Major record is lamentable yet the media eulogise him year after year. He is a massive disappointment and a traitor to his golfing talent. I believe his problems lie in his mental approach and temprament. Whatever, for a man with such talent, his time has come and gone and there will be no Major victory. The same applies sadly to Lee Westwood - continually finishing close but no cigar, and that will be his golfing epitaph. I only had to look at the Leaderboard after round 3 to know he would not win. It's called pressure, nerves, whatever - Mickleson was right behind him and other proven winners close too - it was, and always will be, too much for him. Finally, a digression, well done to Tiger - courage, skill and let down by rust. How many of us have after a break from golf played a scintillating round on return but then run into problems? Aye, but he'll win at St Andrews - get your money on now. But, for now, all hail the victor, Phil Mickleson!

  • Comment number 2.

    I think Westwood can take so many positives not just from this tournament but the way he's played in the last year or 2. He can at least look back and say he didn't lose the Masters, Mickelson very much won it on Saturday and Sunday. His run of 2 eagles and a birdie (which was nearly an eagle) on Saturday and then that shot at the 13th were where he won another green jacket. Shame as I was really rooting for Westwood but I would rather Mickelson had beaten him to it than anyone else. Comes across as an absolute gentleman and a thoroughly decent person so congratulations to him. It's not always the case that the best and probably the most deserving player actually win but it certainly happened this time.

  • Comment number 3.

    "First, Ernie Els - this man is one of the biggest non achievers of all golfers of all time. His Major record is lamentable yet the media eulogise him year after year."

    So 2 US Opens and a British Open is a lamentable record these days!

    Laughable!

  • Comment number 4.

    Great win for Mickelson. Westwood didn't wilt but he failed to "close it out." Whilst the left-hander was blazing away Lee looked a touch tentative.
    Having said that, Augusta seems to be a course you love or fear. If big Mick is backing Westie to win a major I am not going to argue. As for Tiger well he looked a changed man on day one but quickly reverted to type.
    More time off? Perhaps the media circus is his new "addiction."

  • Comment number 5.

    Firstly Els having a lamentable record in the majors with 3 wins and 5 2nd places to his name and a host of top 5 finishes this comment is simply ridiculous, Els has shown his true character by taking the time to look after his son who has autism he put his family before himself and that is something Woods has simply not done. Westwood not a proven winner 2 order of merit wins including last year and one year in which he won 7 times also make the previous comment laughable. Woods continued to behav disgracefully over the tournament and although many will disagree I believe golf is better off without him and am glad hes taking a break so plyers who are great perople as well as great golfers such as Mickleson and Els who are the true role models that people (sponsors too) should be focussing on. Secondly picking Kim as someone who might have one here is another player who seems to believe he is bigger than the game who seriously needs to adjust his attitude. Finally congratulations To big Phil Leftie is a deserving winner and played some fantastic golf but Westwwods time will come

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done to everyone involved really. Happy Mickelson won as that shot on 13 was worth the green jacket alone.

    As for nit picking Tiger's attitude or body language pleas eput it all into context, as he said he gradually played worse as the tournament went on so what do people expect, he should be getting haapier while playing badly?

    Sure many players may handle themselves differently when playing badly but is it not our reactions what make us human? If he needs time off then so be it its his choice to make.

    Lastly what a player Kim could be if he is consistent? Looking forward to Pebble Beach

  • Comment number 7.

    Journos can't help but comment on Woods nowadays, quite lamentable. Leave him alone, he has nothing to prove to you or the media, if anything you lot are underachievers compared to him. At least he is at the top of his profession, are you? Some people are reserved personalities and some are not, so deal with it! He made a mistake, I bet no one else (journalists in particular) makes mistakes.
    "Phil Mickelson is the man Tiger Woods vowed to become"...somehow I don't think so. Once again, he has nothing to prove to anyone. Actually the media (and golf) owes him one as you all seem to be feeding off him.
    This was meant to be about Phil, and congrats to him for a well deserved win. He played a great game yesterday and he is the type of winner that delivers at crunch times. Westwood will need to overhaul his mental preparation for these sort of times.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why is Tiger Woods not allowed to be angry at a bad shot? I have quite a negative view of anyone who has a problem with someone dropping a club in frustration.
    And why are people noting the fact that Tiger Woods hasn't 'changed' on-course? Umm, why would he have?

    Anyway it was a good masters, Phil just created some magic that Lee didn't

  • Comment number 9.

    If these comments in support of Tiger are aimed at my comment, im not saying he has to be happy when he plays bad or be more interactive with the media and his personal problems should be exactly that personal and private but i understand that for a superstar such as him thats unlikely however shouting Jesus after hitting a poor tee shot and Tiger or God Dammit i believe is not acceptable on a golf course by anyone and he just seemed disintrested in golf and absorbed in himself over the week as he has in my opinion over the last few years gone are the days of the Tiger happy to be on the golf course smiling all the time and fist pumping his way to emphtic victories like at Augusta in 1997. He thought himself superhuman and above the game and to my mind he still does.

  • Comment number 10.

    @1putt

    Totally agree with you but even he admitted he is or was not enjoying the game anymore. End of the day there were part where he seemd to be and i guess the mistakes he made trying to win in the final round bought out the side people dont like.

    Problem is if he is happy and doesnt win people will say the changes has reulted in him not winning and visa versa.

    All in all the majors are best when all the top players are fighting for the win with the prospect of a possible suprise winner. Golf needs Tiger just as much as he needs golf

  • Comment number 11.

    I really really hope Phil Mickelsen's tee shot on the 12th doesn't get forgotten in the mists of time. I thought that was the shot that won him the event. How many of the other leaders got a birdie on that hole, with the pin so dangerously placed. Yeah the shot on the 13th was great, but in the end it only gave him a birdie, effectively par to the field. The 12th was where the final charge really started, and as such it should be remembered!

  • Comment number 12.

    Tiger's self proclaimed redressed attitude lasted exactly 18 holes. His attitude and golf got steadily worse as the week went on. Did he call fore when he drove into the crowd? If he drives like that at Pebble beach we'll see the full blown tantrums, swearing, club throwing and spitting big as life once again. if only the open was at Carnoustie this year. Great job Phil. Iconic shot as good as Couples' 3 iron at the same hole in '92.

  • Comment number 13.

    First, many congrats (and thanks) to Phil - I had 20 quid on him to win before the tournament so I'm happy!

    In support of 1putt and for those of you commenting of alleged 'Tiger bashing'. The point is here is that Tiger held himself out as a paragon of virtue, a man of unimpeachable and impeccable morals, when all the time he was nothing of the sort - a nasty little man who had countless affairs, including whilst his wife was pregnant with his seocnd wife, and whose behaviour on the course was that of a spoiled brat rather than the superstar golfer that he clearly is. The point is, he's talented, rich, successful - would a little humility really hurt him? If he doesn't enjoy the game, then dont play.

    FORGET Woods, and give praise to Phil, who was awesome. Fabulous golf, and deserved to win. Unluckly Lee, but if you keep playing like you are you must surely win a major (or two). I'll admit to being a bit of a Westwood doubter, and am happy to be proven wrong!!

  • Comment number 14.

    Re my blog above, that should have said second child obviously...

  • Comment number 15.

    Pointless article, really. Mickleson has done great and deserve all the accolades, but it is insulting to the winner, and to golf fans, that you cant praise him without a comparison with Tiger Woods! And then come the statement that Phil Mickelson is the man Tiger woods 'vowed to become'. Such nonsense! 14 majors for Tiger compared with 4 for Phil. Really? 71 PGA tour wins compared with 38 for Phil. Praise the 2010 Masters winner all you can, but leave Tiger alone will you? Otherwise you only advertise your folly.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well done Mickelson!

    Good to see Tiger back. I expect the head to head between the two to level out. Terrific stuff.

  • Comment number 17.

    Really pleased for Big Phil - totally deserved it and at least it'll keep him in the Casino's for another couple of months!! :-)
    Phil's the man Tiger wants to become - we all have our skeleton's - just some people manage to sweep them under the carpet better than others!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Having lived in the US for most of Tigers rise (fifteen years now) I am surprised at the break they continually give him here. To those who say you just have to respect his talent, without reference to the other stuff, I don't agree. In a world of boorish behaviour, golf is the shining light (or should be) for those of us who believe you can be great in your sport and a good man as well. This game will always find you out-if you are a cheat it will cheat you. If you are a pig it will treat you like one. Always has done.

  • Comment number 19.

    Brilliant and well deserved win for Phil Mickelson.

    Exciting 2010 Masters, 4 days of televised sporting heaven superbly captured as always by the BBC.
    Well done to Sam Torrence, Wayne O'Grady, Peter Allis, Ken Brown and all the team.
    Hazel Irvine is a far more agreeable Master's mein host than big ears Linekar.


  • Comment number 20.

    100% agree with your praise of Mickelson. I have a teenage son who has done rather well as a golfer - at least in local terms - and I always pointed to Mickelson and Darren Clarke when he was looking for golfing role models as players worth following, not only for their huge talent, but also dignity as men.

    Woods attitude in his post tournament interview rather disgusted me. The spoilt brat, found out to be a rather less than perfect on all fronts deserves everything he gets. I hope he is at St Andrews and I also hope he gets the respect he deserves - none.

    And we in the UK have some rather large headed individuals who one could never point to as exemplary people. I won't name them - though I would say that Lee Westwood would not be one of them - but they know who they are and the size of the mirror with which they have a very personal relationship.



  • Comment number 21.

    Of all the contenders Westwood shot the highest score, Phil played great but Westwood folded, yet again. Maybe he will win a major but he'll have to be well ahead going into the final round because he proved again yesterday when the pressure is on he can't do it.

  • Comment number 22.

    The Mickelson/Woods relationship has some parallels with the Palmer/Nicklaus rivalry of the 60s. Years ago Time magazine eulogised their rivalry with "When God created Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, he turned to Nicklaus and said: 'You will be the greatest the game has ever seen.' Then He turned to Palmer, adding: 'But they will love you more.'"
    The difference is that Jack's real "crime" was that he simply wasn't Arnie. He carried none of the traits we can unfortunately see in Woods on the fairways. He was not a club thrower, spitter or a noted curser. Jack also exemplified what true sportsmanship is all about in a way that Woods today can only dream about. Off course, Jack was a brilliant family man again with none of the "excesses" we associate with Woods.
    Jack eventually softened his image and became one of golf's truly beloved players. I wonder if Tiger will ever achieve the same feat?
    The difference may well be that Jack desired the warmth of the fans. I am not sure that Woods is really bothered what the fans think of him.

  • Comment number 23.

    Why are people suddenly clamouring for Woods to be 'Mr Nice Guy' on the course. He is a fiercely competitive guy, who enters every tournament to win. This means he cannot miss shots, and doesn't ever expect to. I for one commend him for competing at all. If any of you reading this have played to any sort of standard, you will know that time away from golf can ruin confidence and touch that is built up through playing in tournaments. For him to come back at what is widely regarded as one of the toughest courses in the world, and finish 4th at -9, shows he is a class above anything that has ever held a golf club.
    Tiger Woods has increased not only the interest and money put forward by fans and sponsors, he has increased the standard of golf among the games elite. Phil Mickleson, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington etc. would not be playing at the standard they are if Tiger was not around, simply because they wouldn't have to.
    Golf owes Tiger Woods alot, including a break from this ridiculous line of questioning and harassment.

  • Comment number 24.


    Watching the coverage of the final round last night I was struck by the notion that Westwood seemed to be playing more tentatively and was more easily distracted during the final round than in any of his previous rounds. He also appeared to be hitting the ball a little harder into the greens with the result that his ball did not release in the same way that others did. It's another notch to add to the list of 'experience' that Westwood is generating. Let's hope it's not too long before he manages to convert one of these chances into a major victory.

    As for Phil, despite spraying a few drives deep into the trees, he managed to rescue par on every occasion, with one notable exception - that magnificent second shot to the 13th. Fair enough he missed his putt for an eagle, but following his brilliant birdie on the 12th this was a statement of intent. It was truly the stuff of Seve... magnificent to watch.

    Choi was in with a good shout for most of the round and looked to be playing the steadiest of all the contenders until bogies at the 13th and 14th derailed his challenge.

    As for Tiger - a bad week all round. He played poorly, got worse as the week went on, and his understandable frustration at the way he was playing led to fits of pique which seemed to be in contrast to his promises of improved behaviour following his self-imposed exile.

    Congratulations Phil, and to the Augusta Committee for not hiding all the pins on the last day. It made for exceptional entertainment, and one of the most enjoyable Masters for many a year.

  • Comment number 25.

    Disappointed that Westwood didn't win, but he didn't play at his best during the last round, too many errant drives & missed putts, I think the occasion gets to him at these big championships. Still he did at least birdie the 17th to take outright 2nd, which will be some compensation. I thought at one time that K.J.Choi would come through to win, but he faded over the last few holes. All credit to Mickelson though, he has the game to get out of trouble and it showed on Sunday. Woods did tremendously well to get 4th place, but I'm glad he didn't win.

  • Comment number 26.

    Mickelson played brilliantly and fully deserved to win. But he shouldn't be used as a stick to beat Tiger Woods. They are chalk and cheese and that makes things interesting. Woods is a fiery character and that has led to incidents on the course but it's nothing worse than some of the things I see and hear on a Sunday morning !

  • Comment number 27.

    Different people have different personalities. Tiger and Phil are great golfing rivals in a Sampras/Agassi, Prost/Senna or Coe/Ovett sense. Tiger should never have said he would change that much because he can't.

    I also think he should not take the break from golf now. He should get right back on the horse and go through the "cold turkey" to get his competitive instincts back. He came fourth so he can't be that far away.

    On a different subject, I was looking at the galleries on TV and saw very few African Americans there. Is golf still a predominantly white only sport in the US?

  • Comment number 28.

    They apparently call him FIGJAM (something that can't be explained on this PC blog), but he's right. And,IMHO, Phil is the real deal because his play was nothing short of sensational. Sure the shot on 13 was extraordinary...but fortune favours the brave (just ask Chip Beck) and at 12 Phil had eschewed the safe route, and one should not forget his amazing up and downs at 9 and 10, after errant pulled drives. On those occasions he shrugged off disaster, with an ' aw shucks grin ', and who will ever forget that leaf that fell into the path of his hole-bound putt, early in the round? Tiger would have moaned about that, as he did every shot that wasn't to his liking. And the John Daly putt-around at 14 was just confirmation that nothing has changed. As for the post round interview...he was like a churlish schoolboy who is unhappy if he doesn't win...Augusta offered an olive branch and he blew it off...Quel dommage!

  • Comment number 29.

    Good blog Rob

    I wanted Westwood to win on merit but afraid that he choked again. In the same position Faldo would have won. Mickelson did. Same calibre both. While I would have been pleased to see Westwood win I'm glad that Mickelson did.

    With regard to Woods. Why is that so many can't seem able to see beyond his gofing prowess and see all of him - and all of him isn't very pleasant. It's not about getting angry over one bad shot; it's about his deeply flawed charcter which we get more than a glimpse of on the golf course.

    Life, in this sense,indeed every sense, isn't just about winning. There's more to it than that. It's also about how you win; and lose. Woods isn't very good at either. Ungracious and arrogant in victory and the same and worse in defeat.

    I don't care how many majors he wins his tarnished character and personal reputation will always precede him in my eyes as he struts arrogantly through life on and off the course thinking he can trash everybody. But what you reap you sow and I really don't think the reaping has finished in his life yet. I see little sign of true repentance.

    Well done Phil. A great gofer and as far as I see a man of personal integity, honesty and decency. A winner on the course and as a man. I know your wife is proud of you and respects you. How sad that Woods can't say the same thing.

  • Comment number 30.

    I totally stand by what I said earlier about Els and Westwood. Els is a massive disappointment especially over recent times in Majors, and outside of his 2 recent PGA Tour wins, in tournaments generally. Every year he gets built up by media and his fans alike but has so often not only failed but badly let down his supporters. Leave his family out of it. He is horribly inconsistent and very often doesn't put himself in contention - viz the Masters just finished and he was the so-called "form player" - or if in contention he meekly capitulates. He once looked like the man to succeed big time - his Majors record is lamentable for a man of such talent and 3 wins for most (eg Harrington - don't fancy him for another) is real success but generally he has "yet another disappointing tournamen". Still very much doubt he'll win another Major and equally doubt Westwood will even win one. He's had his chances and at least Harrington took his chances - now Westwood is also scared of his near misses. 2 Order of Merit wins show he can play consistent golf but there's a world of difference when it comes to Majors. The fact some of you like the guy very much (and Els) is fine but don't let the liking blinker you to the problems. Mickleson (glad we're all agreed) and Woods will win more Majors, Choi and Kim will soon win at least one but no more for Els and none for Westwood.

  • Comment number 31.

    27. At 2:13pm on 12 Apr 2010, lorus59 wrote:
    On a different subject, I was looking at the galleries on TV and saw very few African Americans there. Is golf still a predominantly white only sport in the US?


    I think it is but does it matter? America is a place of opportunity with access to all sports for all. If blacks choose not to play or watch golf that's their choice surely? I'm not so sure their are too many black ice hockey players either?

    Is darts and snooker primarily a white only sport? What about field hockey?

  • Comment number 32.

    "First, Ernie Els - this man is one of the biggest non achievers of all golfers of all time. His Major record is lamentable yet the media eulogise him year after year."

    Two US Opens, 1 Open Championship, countless victories in top class events all around the world, including two already this season in big events.

    Plus beaten in an Open in a play-off and denied at the death in maybe two Masters and playing in an era when a certain T Woods has won 14, Mickelson 4, Singh a couple etc etc, yes agree his record in lamentable!!

    A joke of a comment

  • Comment number 33.

    still standing by your comment that Els major record is lamentable, that is definityl laughabel anyone who has played to a decent standard knows how hard it is to play as consitently as Els has over the years 3 majors some WGC's and some nearly's in the majors particuarly at Augusta in 04 and the fact that he was once the World Number 1 in the era that Woods has so effectivly domintated, mean you cannot count the mans dedication or commitment and even leaving his family out lets not forget his extensive lay off for a knee injury when he was at the peak of his powers. Also there is a World of difference in the majors and that is why winning three is nothing to be sniffed at let alone called lamentable. Hoe many majors did Norman win or Woosnam or Langer or Lyle (all less than 3) and even the great Seve only won 5 so to describe 3 as lamentable is ridiculous especially given the increased competiton of the modern era. Westwood underent Nick Faldo like swing surgery and plumeted down the world rankings, over the last few years he has played better than before and been in contention like never before his time will come.

  • Comment number 34.

    i meant doubt not count in the previous post by the way

  • Comment number 35.

    1putt4life - I'm right behind you and agree with what you're saying.

    I live in the States and the Woods media overkill is nauseating and to be brutally honest, he's become almost unwatchable. The sulking, the pouting, the bad manners couple with the histrionics (watch him yesterday failing to complete his follow through and dropping the club one handed - he did it several times as though to accentuate the problems he was having to everyone) is awful to watch. However, watch things go well for him and the high fives, big grins and the fist pumps come into play. I too think that the game would be better without him. This would have the knock-on effect of removing the bandwagon fans from the sport who switch off when Woods is not in contention or simply don't watch when he's not playing.

    Funnily enough, my opinions about Anthony Kim are in line with yours - that he is a younger version of the Woods prototype with fist pumping, 'loud' personality etc.

    I think the previous guy's comments about Els were simply that he has underachieved based on the talent he possesses. I could watch him hit the balls all day - he's a fantastic talent - but in my opinion, he's simply not a good enough putter under pressure to have won what he should have won. And despite the outrageous shots, Woods' real strength is in his putting - that's what has won him many of his championships.

    In the end, yesterday's win for Mickelson was quite touching in a way. Seems a decent bloke and he deserved his win. Fortune does indeed favour the brave. That said, I do hope Westwood comes good - he too is a great player and always comes across well, both on the course and in interviews.

  • Comment number 36.

    I too, can't understand the criticism of Ernie Els. He has three Major titles, and countless PGA & European wins to his credit. It seems to me he is a balanced personality, a nice guy, a credit to the game, and probably very happy with his life. Has Tiger Woods obsession with winning made him a happy man? I think not and whilst people might respect him, nobody likes him. There is more to life than just hitting a golf ball.

  • Comment number 37.

    Mickleson is the total package? C'mon dont be soo naive, He wins a major for the first time in 4 years and hes the saint? You wouldnt be calling mickelson the total package if Tiger won - Fact. By calling mickleson an accomplished winner you mean 46 career wins compared to Tigers 97? Tiger Takes a 5 month break from golf and his whole life blown up - yes its entirely his own fault. He takes 5 months off from golf and still proves why he is the world number 1 golfer and indeed bigger than the game of golf itself. If mickelson is the so called total package, that makes tiger woods God.

    And also the shot of the year from mickleson? Please you are having a laugh. The Shot of the tournament was Adam Scott's eagle on 7th on his final round. 30 seconds moving on the green? If anything that shot is in the same calibre as wood's shot on the 16th a few years ago.

  • Comment number 38.

    Wilson, there's a bit of difference between Scott's shot when he's got very little to play for and Mickleson's, when hes actually trying to win the tournament. Most golfers will play a shot like Mickleson's or Scott's at some time but the difference is the occasion, so your point is insignificant.

  • Comment number 39.

    How is there a bit of a difference? Just because you've got nothing to play for dosen't stop you from producing skill? Just because he didnt win means all the shots that he played were irrelevant? That was easily one of the best shots in golf.

    Insignificant how?

    Let me ellaborate - Premiership Football Season 08/09.
    Goal of the season was fernando torres against Blackburn.
    But liverpool didnt win the league & manchester united did. So only the goals scored by manchester united are allowed to contend for goal of the season?

    Ill give you a clue with the answer " N - "

  • Comment number 40.

    I won't lie, I was rooting for Tiger to win it but when I saw Phil Mickelson hugging his wife after the 18th hole knowing how hard a time she's having the tears definitely came down. He's always my second best so if it wasn't Tiger I'm happy it was him.
    Westwood will break into the major win. That was very consistent playing for 4 days of golf! I know its heartbreaking to be so close and lose again but I hope he keeps playing like he did.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Post 1 "there are 2 major non-Major winners that are underscored after this Masters. First, Ernie Els - this man is one of the biggest non achievers of all golfers of all time. His Major record is lamentable yet the media eulogise him year after year. He is a massive disappointment and a traitor to his golfing talent. I believe his problems lie in his mental approach and temprament."

    Ok for a start, its bizarre to label Els as a "major non- Major winner" when he has 3 majors to his name. And one of the "biggest non achievers"? Lets see......

    He has 66 professional career WINS including the 3 forementioned major wins, 2 WGC titles, and a record 7 World Match Play titles. He is at the top of the all time money list on the European tour and he is 6th on the all time PGA Tour money list which is remarkable when you consider he has never been a full timer on the PGA tour until this year. His victories have come in Europe, USA, Africa, the Far East, Middle East, Australasia. Mental problems? Yeah, this guy has had big Mental problems when it comes to winning tournaments.

    As for his Major record. He has played in 70 majors as a professional golfer. He has 30 top 10s. If you want to argue that top 10s arent good enough then you dont realise just how hard these tournaments really are to win. Other than Tiger Woods, who else who is playing in this modern era has a far superior record to Els? He is tied with Harrington and Mickelson moved onto 4 Majors only yesterday. How many top 10s does Mickelson have? Does that make him a "non achiever" aswell? 3 Major victories by Els is well above average. Some opportunites have passed him by. He lost an open play off, he lost the 2004 Masters to an inspired Mickelson who took his first Major on that occasion. Els then done his cruciate ligament in 2005 which he basically never fully recovered from until 2008. It took him a year or so to get his confidence back, but 2 PGA wins this season is quite a good start to the year.

    To label the man a "non achiever" or suggest he has been "a traitor to his talent" in your first post was borderline insanity. However, in your next post (30) you clearly "stand by" what you said. Thats fine, you "stand by" it because im quite confident you are standing alone.

    Long live the Big Easy.

    p.s- congrats to Phil on a well deserved win. Cant believe its only his 4th Major though. What an underachievement really.



  • Comment number 43.

    @ wilson187, holing that putt was akin to backing the winner of the grand national. While impressive, it was still a bit lucky.

    Tiger's shot at Hole 9 on Day 2, or Mickleson's at 13 yesterday were the shots of the tournament for me.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your comments. I reckon it's a bit harsh to call Els an underachiever, though we probably all think he should have won more. But is Harrington now an underchiever for not adding to his three? Probably not. It's very hard out there.

    Pyschoarsenalysis - it's not really lamentable to be commenting on Woods. He's the biggest story in golf, still, and it would be remiss not to reflect on his first tournament back.

    Saintlymark74 - you're spot on about 12. Phil said it himself afterwards, that that was the moment he thought he might win.

    Stkole - thanks for your kind remarks. I have praised Mickelson and made a comparison with how he goes about his business and how Woods said he would from now on. See Ronan at 41.

    In general, a fascinating outcome - Westwood got himself into the lead through grinding, but that ultimately wasn't enough in the face of Mickelson's magic. Phil is a gambler and has been criticised in the past for losing tournaments by being too aggressive. But great champions have something special, something extra. Westwood shouldn't be too down - he didn't choke, he just got beaten by a player on a hot streak, for whom things came off. As Mickelson said, he doesn't have to be perfect at Augusta, his cavalier spirit can set up the birdies and eagles and his short game and touch can get him out of trouble.

    Roll on the US Open. Tiger's to lose?

  • Comment number 45.

    Every sport needs a villain and right now and maybe from here on in Tiger Woods will be that villain. Its sad when certain papers state Mickelsons win is a win for morals blah blah blah

    End of the day golf like any solo sport is very single minded and ego-centric

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with some other posters, there was hardly a need to even mention Tiger Woods outside of the scoreboard. He didn't win so why bother. This weekend was about Phil Mickelson and because he lead for a lot of it, Lee Westwood.

    I'm getting really sick of this sad media obsession about Tiger. I personally couldn't care less whether he's a 'changed man' or not; who cares? It has no bearing on his or anyone else's game. Surely the aftermath of the masters should be about how well players played and not about their personal lives.

    Congrats to Phil anyone who gets two eagles in a row on those holes deserves the tournament. Best wishes to his family as well.

  • Comment number 47.

    Its ironic and quite funny that Mickelson is concerned for his wife and Woods does not know which way to turn!
    Mickelson has always come across as a really nice person with that friendly laid back demeanour.
    Even without the Woods problems, I would always wish Mickelson to be ahead of him!
    Woods acts like a brat most of the time whilst playing!

  • Comment number 48.

    This was a very exiting event to watch.
    Great for Phil to win under all he is going through.
    He does make some very big errors at times , none moreso than missing a 3 or 4 foot Eagle putt , after one of the most amazing shots he ever played , he did not seem to take time and walk around it etc, and in Masters you dont get many ops to throw away.
    He always looks like he could get fitter and lose some weight, but golfers often dont like fitness training .
    Hope Rory gets refocused after all the hype , he is still only 21 with a great record as Amateur and good start to his pro career.
    Woods has seemingly lost the love and fun of golf , he never ever seems truly happy, he can still play amazing golf and the greatest escape artist since Houdini !!

  • Comment number 49.

    Westwood lost that one.

    His play around the green is really not up to the level of his main competitors and it looks like he will always find someone with that little bit extra on his way at Major Championship.

    The contrast with Mickelson (or Woods who manages to shoot 69 on Sunday while playing shots even a Sunday hacker would be annoyed with) who displayed a magnificent exhibition of his short game was all too obvious for everyone to see.

  • Comment number 50.

    Rob,
    You spoilt the whole blog with your "Tiger's to lose?" assessment of the US Open.
    Maybe he'll win, maybe he won't, but it's presumptious to assume he's best qualified. For starters, we don't know when he'll play again; given his obfuscation on that point, I'd guess Memorial, Quail Hollow is too public, he couldn't care less about the Players, he'll speak to Jack and maybe Memorial will be the one. He certainly won't win at Pebble unless he plays.
    But he won't come there with the best record there, Phil will. The course has been changed a lot since Woods has played there in earnest and it won't suit him so much.
    Not saying he won't win, but Woods's to lose? That's going too far.

  • Comment number 51.

    Gudai Guys - thank you all for the comments upon my 2 "comments" on Rob Hodgetts article which I centred mainly on Els and Westwood. I have reread what I said this morning and the other coments and I admit to having been far too unfairly critical of Els - I apologise to all his loyal fans for remarks that were unfair. Overall, I think FRED summed it up best for me when he said "Els has underachieved based on his talent". I do believe that and it is very applicable to the more recent years but looking at his overall record, it is one to be proud of though I'm sure he knows he could and should have done much better overall. Enough said I hope. As for Westwood, I'm not very contrite. FGUGEN really puts my view more succintly with "Westwood will always find someone with a bit extra at the Majors". As I said previously, one close look at the leaderboard after the third round told me he would not win. Mickleson right behind, Woods close, etc and he knew that at any moment one or more of the pack could go manic and destroy his chances. Mickleson did not go manic but the pressure he put on Westwood by the quality of his play got to Westwood and he knew he couldn't hold on - it was sad but it's happened before and will again. If he can ever have a 4-5 shot lead entering the final round he should win because he thrives on his play/condidence but under pressure, where winning a Major is so precious and all England is behind him, it becomes a bridge too far. I still (sadly) believe he is destined not to win a Major save in the scenario I have illuminated. Hope this is clearer and fairer. Don't agree Kim is reminiscent of Tiger - more the young cavalier excitable Seve, and look what he did. Kim is a showman but when he's hot, boy he's real hot and I find that sort og golf very exciting. Thank you ROB HODGETTS for interpreting my remarks re Els as "should have won more". I shouldn't need your help but I was too unfairly critical and the nub of my criticism of Els is that for some time now I've watched him fail to properly compete - as I said it must hurt him more than any of us - but, no one can take away his overall record (not especially me!) and he is a great guy and a role model to boot. One of the real positives of this column is that it offers a chance to think again - so thanks to all who have commented. Also I do believe Harrington will not win another Major - 3 is a great haul for a man who has achieved that by sheer guts and hard work for there are so many guys out there with s much more natural ability and had much easier starts. Woods? For me the secnd best golfer of all time and all the other golfers owe so much to him - they must now take the burden of the way he is with the benefits he has brought to them all - in the same way as Palmer did for his peers (but without the bad beaviour). The best golfer ever - Bobby Jones by a distance and as I write this there is a photo of Jones in front of me thanking my Father for playing a round with him which was the last round he played in the UK. Also, I've already had a good punt on Woods to win the 150th Open at St Andrews this summer which I consider as close to a sure bet as any in Golf are when picking a winner. Finally, the Mickleson win was almost universally welcomed and enjoyed - fantastic for him, and for all of us who watched and appreciate a worthy champion and simply a "bonzer bloke". This has been an interesting experience for me - sorry it is long but sometimes, especially when nibbling a slice of humble pie, one needs to explain. FORE!!

  • Comment number 52.

    Of all the millions of words written in comments over the last 5 months I think the very best has to be one of the earliest. Just one word "Toast".

  • Comment number 53.

    A few points:

    1. I agree with the posters who say that Tiger has not changed
    2. I don't agree with people who say "why all the media attention on Tiger". Like it or not he is the biggest name in golf. You could say the same for Beckham (who isn't even that good IMHO) or in the past Ali for instance
    3. I really don't think you can say that Westwood choked or that he blew it

    To expand:

    1. Tiger said he would try and rein in his emotions and temper etc. He clearly either would not or could not do so. In the 2nd or 3rd round, on one of the front 9 par 3's, he hit his shot and then was clearly heard to shout the F word at the top of his voice. That was not the only example, just the most obvious one I saw.

    If you look at his pre-Masters press conferences whilst he was in quarantine, he went on about how he would change and basically admitted that displays of temper are not acceptable. Then when it came to it, he hypocritically did what he always does - cursed and moaned. When Peter Kostis asked about his emotions he got SO defensive and said "I didn't hit a good shot for 5 holes, what do you expect?"

    Compare that wih Greg Norman in 96. He threw away the tournament that he most wanted to win. But he conducted himself graciously during the round and afterwards. That is the sign of a true sportsman. Yes, people will say "Woods has won way more majors, Norman under achieved" but thats not the point. The point is that Woods said he would try to be "nicer" but he has not changed a jot. I wouldn't be surprised if the same goes for his private life. He should either make a beter effort or be honest and say "Sorry guys, this is the way I am".

    You may laugh at this but I usd to be terrible on the golf course. Swearing, throwing clubs etc. I got told by a few people (incuding my future wife!) that it was not on. These days, I control myself. No I am not Tiger, but the point is if he really did believe what he said about changing, then he would change. In my view he a hypocrite and this is all about keeping the Tiger money machine going.

    2. Not much more to say on this but it's so naiive to question the media attention he gets. He has done more for golf (in terms of the prize money) than anyone, perhaps even Palmer. A lot of rich people stand to gain / lose lots of money depending on how Tiger's career pans out.

    3. Westwood did not choke. He shot 71. Yes the lowest score of the leaders, but look at who shot lower - Phil 67, Kim 65, then Choi and Woods 69 and Couples 70. Only Mickleson passed him, and that was down to some brave play.

    Mickleson won because he rode his luck early on by making pars when in trouble, then he made some birdies at 12, 13 and 15. Westwood had a couple of narrow misses on 15 and 16. The only time he looked nervous really was that 3 put on 9.

    Just because he lost to a someone who scored beter on the day, you really can't say he choked in my view.

    You could argue that Van der Velde choked at the 1999 Open, that Norman did at the 96 Masters (actually I just think his game deserted him), Sanders at the Open in 73 or whenever it was, Hoch at the Master 1989. Or what about that time Novotna lost Wimbleon. THAT is choking. In my view, anyone who thinks Lee choked (or even that he 'lost' the tournament) doesn't really know much about golf. I really believe Phil 'won' it.

  • Comment number 54.

    # I meant "worst score of the leaders" THere are lots more typos but the preview button wouldn't work!

  • Comment number 55.

    Kwini - just posing the question.

    DB - still can't agree. Tiger was inextricably linked with this tournament so any summing up had to include him. And a Mickelson win called for a direct comparison. Woods might not have featured so prominently if Westwood or, say, Choi had won.

    Fguguen - cant' equate "losing it" to "will always find someone a bit better". That suggests to me that you're saying Phil beat him, which means Lee didn't "lose it" or choke, as you are implying.

  • Comment number 56.

    Rob,
    Why not Dustin Johnson's to lose? He certainly has more recent and realistic credentals?
    Just posing the question.

  • Comment number 57.

    Rob

    I would also like to add that this is a good blog. I agree with your points which I think are well considered.

    More on Westwood 'losing it' or that he has not quite got it, as per post 49 and 51. I disagree. A few points:

    1. I don't think the average joe public has any idea what it is like to play in a major, let alone contend. All I can say is that Westwood faced some tricky moments and he handled them well. He made bogeys but came back. He made mistakes but didn't panic. Not the sign of someone folding under pressure. I don't think you can point to any shot or hole or moment that he looked like he lost his composure.

    2. Many golfers have said 'you learn to win by losing'. Funnily enough, I have just watched a replay of the 2001 Masters where Phil came in behind TIger. Afterwards he said "I keep getting in good positions but don't concentrate for all 72 shots. On 2 or 3 shots I just kind of let momentum take over and make mistakes'. One of the reasons Phil won this year is that he came up just short many times and has obviously learnt from that. In a word - experience. Westwood is now at a similar stage (experience wise) to what Mickleson was before he won a major. Which leads me on to....

    3. To say Westwood has not got what it takes to win a major is not fair in my opinion. Post 49 implies that his short game is not up to scratch, whilst post 51 implies he is mentally not strong enough. I totally disagree on both counts. His short game has improved loads in the last couple of years, and I don't think he shows any sign of mental frailty. There are numerous 'worse' players who have won majors in the last 20 years or so. For instance Brookes, Grady, Micheel, Hamilton, Beem, Lawrie maybe even triple winner Harrington. Westwood is arguably a better player than all those guys and is building the experience to win. Whether he actually wins a major is debatable. Many really good players have had many near misses without getting it done, and he may end up being one of those. You need a bit of luck for sure. But I think its irrefutable that he has the mental and physical game to do it.


  • Comment number 58.

    Thanks for the great Masters coverage BBC!I"ve read all YOUR ARTICLES and Blogs.Most of your Blogers have it wrong! Phil didn't need redemption Tiger did.He completely failed to humanize himself when had a chance,he decided once again to be surly,arrongant and self-centered.The Masters could have been a chance to reconcile his past with the the game of golf but no he was perfect at the condensing attitude that is exactly what created his sense of entitlement that led to his bltant infidelities.As for Tiger I hope he never finds his swing again,I will always root for the good guys from now on-Phil,Lee,Ernie or anybody who respects the game and family values!Phil told Lee he was a quality player and person just like Payne told Phil at a major!

  • Comment number 59.

    "Family Man?"

    Forgive me if I'm wrong about this, but didn't Mickleson dump his first wife to marry the current barbie doll bottled blonde?

  • Comment number 60.

    jessett,
    You're wrong, not sure Phil has forgiven you.

 

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