2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Another Leap
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
Mickelson makes birdie.
Here’s a fun little piece of pointless trivia: In his three Masters victories, Mickelson has never closed with a par on the final hole.
In 2004, he needed to make birdie, rolling in an 18-foot putt on the last hole, followed by the six-inch leap heard ‘round the world. In 2006, he closed with an inconsequential bogey, knowing he was going to win. And in 2010, he finished with birdie just for the hell of it, the finishing touch on a three-stroke triumph.
A par this time and he’ll force a playoff with Rory McIlroy, who’s already in the clubhouse.
It would be his 14th par in a row. Playing with the lead in the final round of a major, there are many players who would take that and run with it. Mickelson isn’t one of ‘em. He’ll look at plenty of these pars as missed opportunities – especially on the final three par-5 holes on the course.
As you wade though the gallery, you hear some of the spectators surmising that he’ll make another par, so as you’re heading toward the green, they’re making their way to the tee box, preparing for an impending playoff.
You’re not so sure, though. The law of averages states that it’s not often Mickelson plays 13 straight holes without a birdie or bogey, so it might be unwise to assume a 14th is about to happen.
He starts the hole by hitting a drive dead straight, which hasn’t exactly been an easy task for him with major championships on the line over the years. His approach shot is good-but-not-great, leaving just under 20 feet for birdie – his first in hours.
Mickelson stalks it from every direction, stares it down and then rolls a perfect putt right at the cup.
It drops into the hole. A birdie. A victory. And yes, another leap – forging almost the exact same figure as the silhouetted logo on his shirt and belt buckle.
“No, no,” he would later say when the celebrations were compared. “I got up a little higher this time. It must be the calves.”