The moment it became Mickelson’s Masters
There are times in sporting conquests when one moment inexorably points to the outcome.
Think Teddy Sherringham’s equaliser in the 1999 Champions League Final and Gary Pratt’s direct hit run-out of Ricky Ponting in the 2005 Ashes series.
Sunday’s Masters finale provided a similar example of such prophetic occasions.
Eventual winner Phil Mickelson did what he had been doing all week, by putting his drive at the par-5 13th deep into the trees.
This left him with 200 yards to the pin, situated only a few paces on from the treacherous Rae’s Creek.
Surely he would do the sensible thing and lay up? Just take his medicine and be happy to stride off to the next hole with a par safely marked on his card.
Not our Phil.
For a man who has spent much of his career living in Tiger Woods’ shadow, Mickelson displayed an unbelievable amount of confidence and audacity.
With just a small gap between the trees, and a lie consisting of spongy pine needles, Phil took out the 6-iron.
As it became clear that he was going to take on a shot that would have been near impossible with a perfect lie, it brought back memories of the pre-Masters week, and Mickelson’s previous attempt at golfing flair.
The event was the Shell Houston Open and, surprise surprise, Phil was once again in difficulty – this time on the par-4 10th.
With the lie of his ball precluding him from hitting a normal left-handed shot, he turned the iron upside down and went for a right-handed one instead.
The result? He got too much of the ball and it ended up cannoning back off his leg, earning him a two stroke penalty, a triple-bogey seven and an extra two days to prepare for the Masters.
Therefore, one could have been forgiven for anticipating a similar result at Augusta.
Instead, Mickelson caught the ball as sweet as can be and sent it perfectly through the small gap in the trees.
As it floated majestically through the air and dropped perfectly onto the green, there was an overwhelming sense that sporting greatness was being witnessed.
The fact that Mickelson missed the ensuing three-foot eagle putt is almost irrelevant. When a single moment of genius strikes, the momentum emphatically switches.
Mickelson went on to capture his third Masters title and reassure golf fans that excitement in the game can be found away from Tiger Woods.