American Mr Nice Guy Phil Mickelson has won his second green jacket, and third major, at the US Masters, playing superior golf to finish on seven under, two clear of the field. South Africa’s Tim Clark finished second, after holing a bunker shot at the 18th.

A bunch of players finished third at four under, including Tiger Woods, Spanish two-time champion Jose Maria Olazabal – who blazed home in 66 to briefly pose a serious threat – Chad Campbell, Retief Goosen and Fred Couples, whose errant putting from short range blew out his chances in the back nine.

Mickelson played beautifully, and safely, compared to the nervous, nearly-man before he finally landed a major at this course two years ago. He had to play 13 bogey-free holes in the morning to finish the third round and shot three-under in the final 18 hole stretch, only bogeying the 18th itself. The man in black was aggressive today without overdoing it, and never looked like slipping back to the waiting pack.

His playing partner, Couples, should have been his biggest threat, but he faded on the greens. A three-putt on 11, turning a short putt for birdie into a bogey, ended it for Fred, after which he was just partnering his close friend, Phil, on the victory stroll.

As always, everybody had a nervous eye on the rear vision mirror throughout the final round, looking for Tiger stripes, but the world number one never seriously threatened. Brilliant from tee to green, he forgot how to putt, later labelling himself a “spaz”.

In the fourth round, Woods had a swag of birdie or eagle putts but couldn’t make any that mattered. However, being Woods, a mediocre, never-firing, frustrating performance was still good enough to finish third.

Of the Australians, Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling finished on one over, tied for 16th, while Nick O’Hern and Stuart Appleby were a shot back, tied for 19th. Robert Allenby and Mark Hensby were another shot back, tied for 22nd, and Adam Scott was a further shot adrift.

Peter Fray

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