This is an article from the April 19, 2010 issue
Mr. Mickelson, Hollywood on line one, Oprah on line two. After a year of hell dealing with his wife's and mother's breast cancer and struggling on the course, Mickelson was solid at worst and frequently spectacular. Winged Foot Schminged Foot.
For all three of his Masters wins Phil sported a black shirt. On Sunday he wore all black, as did K.J. Choi, who tied for fourth. Those two players outdueled or matched their red-shirted playing partners, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods, respectively.
Subtle changes to the layout and setup—a few reduced bunkers, thicker grass on the banks, new pin positions—and carefully considered hole and tee placements brought that Masters magic back by giving the players opportunities for the spectacular or the catastrophic.
The youngest player ever at the Masters, the 16-year-old from Italy showed great poise in becoming the first amateur to make the cut since 2005. He'll turn 17 in the coming weeks and go pro, making his debut at the European tour's Italian Open.
Besides Choi's heroics, defending PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang (right) finished in the top 10 at seven under, and Korean-American Anthony Kim lit up the back nine on Sunday to hit 12 under and finish third.
Saturday saw its highest rating in nine years (7.6/18), up 33% from last year's third round, and Sunday's rose 36% (12.0/25) over 2009. The cameraman who caught the tear during Phil's hug with Amy should expect a raise.
After tying for third at the last two majors, Westwood moved up to solo second this time around, but he was in the driver's seat on Sunday and could only muster a 71. He didn't claim that elusive green jacket, but he may have put a hammerlock on the title of best player never to have won a major.
Fred Couples was almost certainly the first man to play the Masters sans socks. When a 50-year-old finishes sixth at Augusta, what some might see as a fashion don't could instead ignite a boat-shoe, anti-hosiery trend.
The early heat brought an outpouring of sneeze-enducing, greens-slowing pollen, causing reactions among players and patrons alike and forcing Woods to wear a pair of wraparound sunglasses. Then a stray seed pod landed right in Mickelson's line as he putted for birdie on the 2nd hole on Sunday.
The 1988 Masters champ, the sixth-oldest player in the field, opened with a three-under 69, then followed with a second-round 86, a 17-stroke differential that was the most dramatic of the tournament and turned him from contender to pretender overnight.
Coming off two straight wins, Ernie Els figured to contend but stalled at one under. Trevor Immelman was a stroke better but never threatened. Even Gary Player seemed lost without a spot in the field or the ceremonial tee group.
Despite expectations that celebrity-stalking websites and publications would turn the 74th Masters into a Jerry Springer marathon, the club was able to keep the hounds at bay, and civilized talk of golf and golfers dominated the coverage.
GOLF.COM • SIGOLFNATION.COM