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Phil Mickelson reveals the inspiration behind his 2004 Masters victory

April 12, 2020

Throughout Al and Jennie Santos’ kitchen in San Diego were golf flags. Ones from the Bay Hill Invitational and the Buick Invitational and a bunch of others. All nice mementos that their grandson, Phil Mickelson, had given them after his victories at those events.

Around Christmas of 2003, Al told Phil he wanted a new flag. There are four opportunities each year for one. Their conversation ended up on the first. The one with the yellow flag that shows a flagstick placed in Augusta.

“He said to me, ‘Enough regular Tour events. I want a major,’” said Mickelson, who to that point had won 21 tournaments but zero majors, sometimes falling in excruciating fashion. “And the Christmas of December 2003, he ended up telling me that I was going to win the Masters this year.”

A month later, Al passed away. In April, Mickelson had an 18-footer for that flag.

On Saturday, Mickelson broke down his round during a replaying of the tournament on CBS, as this year’s event has been moved to November because of the coronavirus. He had started that final round of the Masters tied with Chris DiMarco for the lead. He ballooned to a front-nine 2-over 38, saw Ernie Els grab the lead, then rallied to draw even with Els heading into 18. Mickelson knocked his approach to 18 feet.

Before Mickelson would have that for the birdie and the win, DiMarco missed a similar putt just left. It gave Mickelson a look.

“I tried to play more break,” he said. “It continued to break, though, and it looked like it was going to miss on the low end.”

It caught the lip, did a near 360 and dropped.

As the ball inched toward the hole, Mickelson lowered his knees a bit. When it fell, he jumped, the arms-and-legs-extended leap now his logo.

“I’m crouched down getting ready to leap – so amazingly high – the thought was,” Mickelson said, “my grandfather just nudged that ball into the hole as I leap in the air and realize I just fulfilled my dreams.”

And he had the flag.

“When you put the jacket on, and you start to realize you are a part of the history of the game and that you get to come back to this special place every year and be part of that elite club that has the Champions Dinner every Tuesday night and congregate with all the past winners and hear stories about their time winning and other people playing and that you get to come back and be part of this event for the rest of your life, there’s no greater feeling as a professional golfer,” Mickelson said.

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