Mickelson picked up his second Green Jacket in 2006, but this time he did it in style. At one point in the final round, he was in a five-way tie for first. But by the 16th hole, Mickelson was up by four shots and was able to bask in the crowd’s applause as he walked up the final fairway.
Four years and no major titles later, the whispers returned. Could he still do it? No one really knew.
So there he was again, in the trees, the glory of a third Green Jacket on the line, with another major decision. But was there ever a doubt? Adoring fans all over the world call him Phil the Thrill for a reason. As he stepped to the shot, CBS commentator and World Golf Hall of Fame member Sir Nick Faldo could only muster, “Oh my goodness.”
When the shot cleared the bank of Rae’s Creek by mere inches and settled three feet from the hole, the roar shook the pines at Augusta. “The greatest shot of his life!” Faldo exclaimed.
Mickelson went on to win his third Green Jacket. He became just the eighth player in history to have three or more Masters wins.
All majors are special, but this one had even greater significance for the Mickelson family. His wife Amy was diagnosed the year before with breast cancer. That she was even in the gallery with the family was a victory – it was the first tournament Amy had the strength to attend since she began treatment.
As Phil and Amy embraced afterward, the tears could have filled Rae’s Creek.
In 2012, Mickelson earned his 40th career PGA TOUR title, and he continues his ascent into the pantheon of golf’s all-time greats.
His legacy, however, may be in the special bond he has made with golf fans. Many have called him the Arnold Palmer of his generation.
When Mickelson won his first Masters title, Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck attempted to explain Lefty’s impact: “As a phenom back in 1991, Mickelson was saddled with the tag of the Next Nicklaus, but he has always had a lot more in common with Palmer. Both have made an intensely personal connection with fans, thanks to an agreeable, approachable manner and a go-for-broke style. They have also been defined as much by their shattering defeats as by their many triumphs.”