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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 22:14 GMT 23:14 UK
Mickelson wins first major
FINAL LEADERBOARD
Phil Mickelson
-9 Phil Mickelson (US)
-8 Ernie Els (SA)
-6 KJ Choi (Kor)
-3 Sergio Garcia (Sp), Bernhard Langer (Ger)
Phil Mickelson birdied the last to win his first ever major title in thrilling fashion at Augusta.

The popular American carded a three-under-par final round to pip South Africa's Ernie Els by one shot.

Mickelson, who had played in 46 majors without victory, had trailed Els by as many as three shots on Sunday but stormed home in 31 shots to steal it.

KJ Choi claimed third after an eventful round, while Sergio Garcia and Bernhard Langer tied for fourth.

Paul Casey was Britain's highest finisher after a final round of 74 gave him a two-under-par total and a share of sixth place.

Also finishing on two under were American quartet Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Chris DiMarco and Kirk Triplett, Zimbabwe's Nick Price and Fiji's Vijay Singh.

On an incredible day at the Augusta National, there were also two holes-in-one in little more than 10 minutes.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington holed his tee shot at the par-three 16th only for Triplett to folllow suit in the next group.

They were only the 16th and 17th aces in the 70-year history of the Masters, although the 15th came on Thursday when DiMarco holed-in-one at the sixth.

I just kept saying to myself 'this is my day', even when I was three behind
Phil Mickelson
But the real story of the day was Mickelson's remarkable back-nine charge for victory.

Magnificent eagles on the eighth and 13th holes had threatened to hand Els the third leg of a career grand slam.

The world number three was three shots clear with five to play when his second eagle hit the cup.

But the 33-year-old Mickelson, so often the bridesmaid at golf's biggest events in recent years, knuckled down and hit back with birdies at the 12th, 13th and 14th holes.

Els took his lead back to two strokes with a birdie at the par-five 15th but Mickelson, roared on by a partisan crowd, birdied the 16th with a gutsy 20ft putt from the edge of the green to set up a fairy-tale finale.

While Els, who narrowly missed his own birdie putt at the 18th minutes before, prepared for a sudden-death play-off, Mickelson rolled in an 18ft putt to finally banish his tag of being the best player never to win a major.

He also became the second consecutive left-hander to win a Green Jacket after Mike Weir's victory last year.

Prior to the final round, much had been made of Mickelson's run of three third-place finishes at Augusta.

But Els will now have to reflect on his own record of second, sixth, fifth, sixth and second over the last five years.





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Masters champion Phil Mickelson
"This was my day"



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