Grand Slam of Golf
Retief Goosen got to plant one on the U.S. Open trophy.
Phil Mickelson found his first green jacket to be a perfect fit. (Photo: AP)

'People's champion' Mickelson simply Grand at Augusta National

On April 9, Augusta National Golf Club paid farewell to three-time Masters Champion Arnold Palmer. The 74-year-old legend made his 50th and final competitive appearance in the spring classic. Two days later, Phil Mickelson put together a charge that was eerily reminiscent of Palmer's greatest performances, and became the unofficial "people's champion."

Mickelson erased a 46-event streak (which included four tries as an amateur) of never having won a major championship. The streak came to a halt as Mickelson coaxed in a downhill 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. The putt also gave Mickelson his first berth in the 22nd PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Nov. 22-24, at Poipu Bay Golf Course at The Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa in Kauai, Hawai


Mickelson is just the fourth player to win a Masters title with a birdie on the final regulation hole. Mark O'Meara last accomplished the feat in 1998. Mickelson's back nine rally allowed him to finish a stroke better than South African Ernie Els, who closed with a 67. With his victory, Mickelson joined Canada's Mike Weir, the Masters winner last year, and 1963 British Open Champion Bob Charles as the only left-handers to win major championship


"It almost feels like make believe," said Mickelson. "My first thought was, 'I did it! I finally did it! I knew I could, but I finally did it."

Mickelson overcame a near disastrous front nine, where he saw a two-stroke lead slip after an opening 38. He recovered with a stunning 31 on the second nine -- featuring birdies on five of his final seven holes. That gave him a 69, and a winning total of 9-under-par 279, for his 23rd career victory.

It was the sixth straight major won a by a first-time champion, something that had never happened in 144 years of championship golf.

The dramatics were necessary to slip past Els, winner of three major titles but no Masters green jacket. Els made two eagles, on the eighth and 13th holes, that temporarily gave him a three-stroke advantage. But Mickelson stepped back after Els' eagle at 13 caused a large gallery roar and returned to birdie the 12th, 13th and 14th holes. An uphill, 15-foot birdie at the 16th earned him a tie with Els. He then set up the final hole birdie opportunity with a 3-wood tee shot down the middle of the 18th fairway.

"I can't believe this is happening," said Mickelson, after 2003 Champion Mike Weir slipped the 43-long green jacket over the new Champion's shoulders. "This is the fulfillment of dreams. I'm just proud to be a champion here. It was an exceptional, unbelievable back nine, and it's something I'll remember forever and ever."

Mickelson's previous major disappointments -- most notably one-stroke losses to Payne Stewart in the 1999 U.S. Open and to David Toms in the 2001 PGA Championship -- seemed far away now.

"I think Phil deserved this one," said Els. "Full credit to him."

South Korea's K.J. Choi closed with a 69, and finished third at 282, while Sergio Garcia -- who posted the week's lowest round of 66 -- tied for fourth with Germany's Bernhard Langer at 285.

Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved.

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  • Mickelson makes Grand Slam history with amazing 59 (11/24/04) —Phil Mickelson turned Poipu Bay Golf Course into his own personal playground Wednesday, firing an eye-popping 13-under-par 59 that shattered the PGA Grand Slam of Golf record of 61 and powered the reigning Masters Champion to victory in the exclusive event reserved for major winners. Amazingly, Mickelson hit only five fairways while registering the lowest round of life.
  • Day Two interview with Phil and friends
    (11/24/04) — PGA Grand Slam of Golf champion Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh and Todd Hamilton talk about Mickelson's magical second-round 59 at Poipu Bay Golf Course.
  • Goosen flies into lead at PGA Grand Slam (11/23/04) — Retief Goosen will be remembered for his incredible putting performance at Shinnecock Hills in June while capturing his second U.S. Open title. His work with the flatstick Tuesday at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf wasn't too bad either.
  • How the Fab Four Fared in 2004
    (11/22/04) — Most golf fans know that PGA Champion Vijay Singh won the most tournaments and earned the most money on the PGA Tour in 2004. But did you know that the world's No. 1 player was ranked near the bottom in putting? We break down all the stats for the four participants in this week's PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
  • PGA Grand Slam of Golf returns to Thanksgiving week (08/27/04) — The PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the toughest tournament to gain entry into, will be contested Nov. 22-24 at Poipu Bay Golf Course and Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa in Kauai, Hawaii.
  • PGA winner Singh completes Grand Slam field (08/20/04) — Vijay Singh didn't make a birdie during regulation play in the final round at Whistling Straits, but he made a huge one on the first of three playoff holes to defeat Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco and win the 86th PGA Championship.
  • Open champ Hamilton heading to Hawaii (07/23/04) — Todd Hamilton earned some mighty nice perks for winning the 133rd Open Championship at Royal Troon, not the least of which was a free trip to Poipu Bay Golf Course in Kauai, Hawaii, for the exclusive PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Hamilton, a PGA Tour rookie who defeated Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff to win the claret jug, joins Masters champion Phil Mickelson and U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen in the one-of-kind event that brings together the year's four major championship winners.
  • Goosen shines at Shinnecock to earn Grand Slam bid (07/26/04) — South Africa's Retief Goosen earned his second invitation to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf when he putted his way to the 104th U.S. Open title. Goosen claimed his second U.S. Open championship on June 21, holding back Masters winner and fellow Grand Slam invitee Phil Mickelson.
  • 'People's champion' Mickelson simply Grand at Augusta Nationali (07/26/04) — Phil Mickelson erased an 0-for-46 winless streak in major championships in April with a thrilling back-nine Sunday charge to win the Masters and earn a spot in the prestigeous PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Poipu Bay Golf Course at The Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa in Kauai, Hawaii.

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