Phil Mickelson made a real statement at
last weekend’s US Masters. Whether it was the way he waltzed through the final nine
holes virtually unchallenged, the fact the win made it back-to-back majors for
him, or that it followed his 13 stroke romp the week before at the BellSouth
Classic, one thing’s for sure – Mickelson might be the man to provide some regular
competition for Tiger.

Which is all the more remarkable when you
think that just over two years ago Mickelson was widely seen as a bit of a
flake, someone who might have had a lot of game, but who, just as surely,
didn’t have the patience to go the distance at the majors.

Yes, he’d won a truckload of regular tour
events, but he took too many risks and played the flop shot far too often to
ever succeed come major time. Don’t forget that prior to his breakthrough win
at the 2004 Masters, Mickelson had logged up three second place and five third
place finishes at the majors. Back then, his biggest claim to fame was being
the best player not to have won a
major.

He was getting dangerously close to Greg
Norman territory. As all long suffering Norman supporters can tell you, the
Shark had eight runner-up finishes in the majors, and is the only person to
lose all four tournaments in a play-off.

Even after Mickelson’s first Masters win,
it seemed after going agonisingly close at each of the remaining majors that
year – second at the US Open, third at the British and sixth at the PGA – he
still had fatal flaws that were holding him back.

But now, after winning three of the last
nine majors, and given the control he displayed in toying with his opponents on
Sunday, Mickelson looks set to add to his major tally. Just how far he ascends
into golfing immortality is anyone’s guess.

But, what does seem clear is that with
Lefty in his present form Tiger Woods is not going to have it all his own way
in the coming years. And for that, we can all be truly thankful.

Peter Fray

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