The 16th hole at Augusta National, a scenic but treacherous
170-yard par-3, did more than decide the 65th Masters. The hole
defined the winner, Tiger Woods, and the losers, David Duval and
With apologies to Colin Montgomerie and his gazillion European
tour money titles, Duval and Mickelson are the best players never
to have won a major championship. You would wager a bundle that
these two would win a bunch of them, if they weren't teeing it up
against a man-eating Tiger. Duval, 29, has 12 Tour victories but
is now 0 for 25 in the majors. Mickelson, 31, has won 18 times on
Tour but is 0 for 31 in the big ones. They played well enough to
win last week--Duval finished minus 14, Mickelson 13 under--but, as
usual, they didn't, because Woods, at 16 under, was a little bit
Duval, who began the final round three strokes behind Woods,
birdied seven of the first 10 holes on Sunday, while Mickelson,
who started one back, piled up six birdies. That wasn't enough,
and now their futures in the majors look as promising as that of
the act that followed the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. In his
last four Masters, Duval has come in second, sixth, third and
second, respectively. In seven years Mickelson has two thirds, a
sixth and two sevenths. He also has a second and a fourth in the
U.S. Open and a third in the PGA. Clearly, winning a major these
days is tougher than picking a good tech stock--unless your first
name has stripes.
Which brings us to the microcosmic 16th hole on Sunday. Duval, at
15 under par, was tied for the lead when he arrived at the tee.
The pin was in its usual final-round spot--back left, where it was
when Jack Nicklaus nearly aced the hole en route to winning in
1986. Duval had 183 yards to the pin. He chose a seven-iron, and
flew it over the green. "I don't have an explanation," Duval
said. "I can't hit an eight-iron there. The minimum carry is 176
yards over the bunker. I hit it so solid I didn't even feel the
shot. To be honest, I thought I might have made a 1. The shot I
equate it to is the five-iron I hit on the last hole in Palm
Springs when I shot 59."
Duval was left with a delicate chip down a steep, slippery slope
and made a good play, stopping his ball seven feet past the cup.
The putt was his tournament. If he missed and Woods did the
expected and birdied the par-5 15th, Duval knew he would be two
shots down with two holes to play. He missed.
Mickelson came to 16 trailing by a shot. He had just jammed in a
crucial 12-footer for birdie, while Woods, who had hit two
beautiful shots to reach the 15th, had inexplicably three-putted.
"He had made birdie and put it right in Tiger's face," said Rick
Smith, Mickelson's coach. "It was time to stuff it in there, but
Mickelson, a left-hander whose normal shot is a left-to-right
draw, pulled his seven-iron shot. His ball landed on the green
pin-high, but on the edge of a steep right-to-left slope. Thanks
to the hook spin he had put on the shot, the ball burrowed into
the upslope and stayed there, leaving Mickelson a parabola of a
putt. "In retrospect Phil needed to go right at Tiger," Smith
said. "If he hits it in the lake, he hits it in the lake."
Woods hit a right-to-left draw. His ball landed inches from where
Mickelson's had, but because of its right-to-left spin it
released down the slope, leaving him a straightforward 30-footer.
Mickelson's curving first putt crept seven feet past the hole,
giving him a comebacker similar to Duval's. Mickelson also
missed. Woods two-putted, and that was that. "Sixteen was a real
killer," Mickelson said. "Not only was I not looking at making
that putt, I was also going to have a tough time two-putting,
which I did not do." Bottom line: Woods executed the shot that
was called for at 16. Duval and Mickelson didn't.
For the week Mickelson made 25 birdies, more than any other
player in the field. Duval made 23, same as Woods. Mickelson,
though, missed a handful of short putts and had eight bogeys and
two doubles. Duval, who missed makable putts on the final three
holes, finished the week with seven bogeys and one double. Woods
had seven bogeys. "Tiger has a microchip in his brain," Smith
said. "When something goes bad, he thrives on it like no other
player. Phil can't make mistakes against a guy like that, and he
What do these guys have to shoot--other than Woods--to win a major?
Mickelson's closing 70 was his best score ever on Sunday in the
Masters. Had he shot a 69, he would have become the first player
in tournament history to have four rounds in the 60s, and he
still would have lost. That was food for thought as Mickelson
returned to Phoenix for a three-week break with his wife, Amy,
and their 22-month-old daughter, Amanda. (The Mickelsons are
expecting their second child in November.)
Duval has gone 31 under par in the last four Masters, a total
matched by no other player. Woods is next best at minus 22 over
that span. Like Mickelson, Duval arrived at Augusta expecting to
win, although that seemed like a stretch. Duval hadn't had a
top-50 finish all year and has been playing under the cloud of a
lawsuit after he jumped his endorsement deal with Titleist to
join Nike. He has also been injured. He practiced so hard last
month that he hurt his right wrist and needed to take a cortisone
shot on March 26. "I hadn't played for five weeks, but I wasn't
feeding y'all a line when I said I thought I had a chance to
win," said Duval, standing on the porch of the clubhouse on
Sunday evening. "I wasn't sure how many people believed I
did--maybe just myself--but it's like riding a bike. You don't
As he had in 1998, when he finished second to Mark O'Meara, Duval
closed with a 67 this year. "It's hard to be upset when it's
Masters Sunday and you shoot 67," he said. "I played well; it
just wasn't enough. I believe I'll win this thing. I love this
place and can't wait to get back. The only thing I don't like
about this tournament is that it happens only once a year."
For Duval or Mickelson, winning once would be enough.