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Westwood deaf to Augusta roars

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Rob Hodgetts | 03:02 UK time, Sunday, 11 April 2010

Electricity crackled and fizzed around Augusta on Saturday as the magic of the Masters returned with a roar.

Make that multiple roars, as Phil Mickelson sparked a scintillating spell of golf that had fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

Mickelson ignited the fireworks with an eagle at the par-five 13th and stoked the fire further by holing his second shot to the 14th for back-to-back eagles - for only the third time in Masters history. He nearly added a third at the very next hole as patrons went into delirium.

The thunder which accompanied the second eagle had fans down in Amen Corner wondering perhaps whether a bomb had gone off. "What the hell was that?" said one.

"That was no birdie," said another. With no radios, eyes strained to see distant leaderboards. Those with binoculars became their guides.

"Here it comes, they're changing it now...oh man, he dunked it. Mickelson dunked his second." Word spread like wildfire. But after the earthquake came the aftershocks.

Fred Couples, who had just birdied the 14th, chipped in for an eagle on the 15th before Mickelson kept the party going, just missing the hole with his second over the water at the long 15th. And those were just the headline acts. "That's about as fun as it gets," said Mickelson.


Back down at the 12th, patriotic English fans witnessing Lee Westwood drop a shot and Ian Poulter leak two felt like they were watching a different tournament. "We're in the wrong place here," said one resignedly.

The roars reverberating around the Georgia pines made you quite forget it was a Saturday. This was Sunday stuff, eclipsing the final round last year when Mickelson and Tiger Woods went on a charge to restore the Masters' mojo after some barren years.

"Those roars are Augusta roars," said the 60-year-old two-time champion Tom Watson. "I'm glad they're back."

Out on the isolated 13th tee, Westwood looked a peripheral figure, having gone from being the four-shot leader to tieing with Mickelson. And by the end of the 13th, Westwood was one behind the charging American, all in the space of 30 minutes.

"It was probably one of those great days in golf. I obviously wasn't privy to it but I was well aware that somebody was making a charge and I figured it was Phil," he said. "That's why major championships are tough to win because great players do great things at majors."

But the 36-year-old Westwood has become hardened to major golf over the last few years and knows better than to concern himself with what others are doing.

"I've got my own little bubble in my own little world that I wander around in now," said the world number four. "What Phil Mickelson does is out of my control. The only thing I can control is where I hit it."

Westwood, who has finished third in three majors in the last 18 months, continued to plough his own steady course, like a huge tanker steering an unerringly straight course across a rough sea.

He put that single blemish at 12 behind him and remained patient until a birdie at the 15th set up his one-shot lead over Mickelson going into the final round, with a maiden major title beckoning.

Westwood admits that a few years back he was caught up in trying to take his game to "the next level", but has since discovered there is no such thing. Only the ability to put yourself into contention and then keep playing until they hand out the prizes at the end.

"It's very boring, I'm just going to keep playing to my gameplan," he said. "I'll try to hit that first fairway and we'll go from there, try to hole the odd putt and see what the situation is at 7pm on Sunday night."

England has not had a Masters winner since Nick Faldo won the third of his Masters titles at Augusta in 1996, while Britain is still chasing its first major champion since Paul Lawrie won the Open in 1999.

Poulter fell away on Saturday, though he is still just about in touch, but Sam Torrance, the former European Ryder Cup captain and BBC commentator, believes Westwood's time has come.

"Lee Westwood really handled himself well out there and put himself in perfect position to win his first major," he said. "I think he's absolutely ready now - 100% ready."

But Mickelson, who won the second of his two Green Jackets in 2006, is developing a deep love affair with the Masters and its fans and will feel he is ready for another, while the ever-tenacious Woods just will not go away.

He has won all 14 of his majors when leading going into the final round, but is well-placed at four back to launch a strike which could break that pattern.

As Mickelson proved, things can change fast at Augusta. But the Good Ship Westwood may yet just steam straight to victory.


  • Comment number 1.

    What a day, that hour when it was all going off was Golf at it's best, pure theatre. Very impressed that Westwood held on whilst it was all going off, I think previously he would have started to fall apart. I agree with Sam, he looks ready to win this.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sounds perverse to say it, but leewestwood1 is still flying under the US media's radar, lots of his shots yesterday were recorded while Phil's and TW's were being shown live. In a poll of 32,000 votes so far, only 11% choose Westwood as the winner, 44% going for Mickelson, 44% for Woods.
    I think all Britain should be confident that Westwood won't lose this tournament; someone else may play fantastic golf and beat him, but Westwood won't beat himself. Magnificent performance Saturday, hoping for more of the same on Sunday, but beware the heckling that Woosnam and Craig Parry had to put up with when challenging for Masters glory.

  • Comment number 3.

    Go Westie!

    The Beeb will lay on some bunting for you too..... :-)

    Certainly looking forward to it this evening.

  • Comment number 4.

    having watched three days of the masters i am wondering has the Tiger really changed Can a Tiger change his stripes ? on a number of occasions clubs have been hurled etc , is this showing respect to the game , i fear not Mr woods . after all the assurances of change and respect Mr woods i would say i have seen little if any improvement in your behaviour on the course from day 2 onwards, I imagine your wife is more concerned than we golf fans for obvious reasons !!!
    secondly,Peter Aliss , people are saying you are becoming a little bitter in your dotage , this may be your last day at the Masters so go out and enjoy it .

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear All . just thinking if you won the Masters what dish would you choose as the winner selects the Tuesday night menu . Personally i would go for sausages and beans and chips ! ( faldo picked fish and chips one year)

  • Comment number 6.

    As great as it was watching it live yesterday, could someone please sack the shows director.

    It doesn't take a genius, or big golf fan, to know that it'll take at least 10 mins to play the last hole, so why did they cut from the green on the 17th (Westwood and Poulter); not even showing the putts; straight to the drives on the 18th, knowing that there'd be a decent gap before they got to their second shot?
    Very, very poor, quite amateurish in fact.

  • Comment number 7.

    #6 - the coverage is the sole responsibility of Augusta National and the tournament committee, and nothing to do with the BBC, who are at their mercy. What they show is what they are given to show!!

    As regards the golf, last night was by far and away one of the most enthralling day's golf played at Augusta for many, many years. It took me right back to the early/mid 80's when I first started to follow the tournament. Some outrageously good golf, birdies and eagles, twists and turns everywhere. Fantastic stuff.

    And once again the course looks magnificent - even my wife, who knows little about the game ("How do they make the ball curve like that on the greens?" being just one of her many questions) loves watching The Masters, primarily because Augusta looks so breathtaking in the spring.

    But the highlight for me yesterday, despite the fireworks from Mickelson, was the way Westwood kept his eye on the ball. To see a big lead disappear in a puff of smoke despite him doing very little wrong could easily have derailed his efforts, but he came through with great strength of character. Stirring stuff.

    My one hope for this evening is that someone actually goes out there and wins the tournament, rather than having it handed to them gift wrapped. It's a long time since I have looked forward to a final round in a Major with such anticipation.

  • Comment number 8.

    "He has won all 14 of his majors when leading going into the final round..."

    I'm fairly sure this is no longer true. Didn't Y.E.Yang come from behind to beat him in the PGA last year?!

  • Comment number 9.

    OK so I've just realised what you meant with the comment of his 14 victories. My apologies.

  • Comment number 10.

    so much for "my own bubble" goes ;as soon as a cheer goes up Westie steps wonder rounds are taking 5 1/2hours

  • Comment number 11.

    hope Westie gets the pick this year's menu just rub it in

  • Comment number 12.

    Great golf, but it is time a new venue was found, where gender is not an issue for membership, and where the mix of spectators might more accurately reflect the racial percentages of the surrounding area. I'm surprised the BBC covers a championship from such a venue, given their moral stance on other events in recent years.

  • Comment number 13.

    a new venue!how can it be the augusta masters in florida;and I can think of several other sports where the gender or race is more prevalant.the only reason there where a lot of females at aintree was to flash their wares to get a prize


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