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Mickelson wins Masters and gets long embrace

Updated: 2010-04-12 11:10
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Mickelson wins Masters and gets long embrace
Phil Mickelson (R) of the US is helped into the green jacket by last years champion, Angel Cabrera of Argentina, after winning the 2010 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 11, 2010. [Agencies]

AUGUSTA, Georgia -- Phil Mickelson won his third Masters title, shooting a 5-under 67 Sunday to pull away for a three-stroke win over England's Lee Westwood.

Even sweeter than slipping into another green jacket for Mickelson was seeing his wife waiting for him behind the 18th green at Augusta National with tears streaming down her face.

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Amy Mickelson had not been at a golf tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago and Phil Mickelson had not looked the same since.

Mickelson shared a long embrace with his wife behind the 18th green, and as he walked to the scoring trailer to sign for the lowest score at Augusta in nine years, a single tear trickled down his cheek to his lip.

"We've been through a lot this year. It means a lot to share some joy together," Mickelson said, his voice cracking as he struggled to keep control. "It's been such an incredible week, an emotional week. And to cap it off with a victory is something I can't put into words.

"It's something we'll share for the rest of our lives."

Determined to win one for his family, Mickelson made two remarkable par saves from the trees, seized control with a 15-foot birdie putt in the heart of Amen Corner and then made a gutsy play with a 6-iron off the pine straw and over Rae's Creek on the par-5 13th to set up a birdie. It was the kind of shot that has brought Mickelson so much criticism for taking unnecessary risks.

There was simply no denying him in this Masters.

His final birdie only mattered on the scorecard, 16-under 272, the lowest by a Masters champion since Tiger Woods in 2001. Mickelson had this won as he walked up the 18th fairway to a massive ovation. He raised both arms when the putt fell, had a long embrace with caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay then walked toward the scoring hut and into his wife's arms.

Standing behind them was Mary Mickelson, his mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.

So ended a Masters unlike any other.

It began with Woods returning from a humiliating sex scandal and brought a sharp rebuke from Masters chairman Billy Payne and scrutiny of his behavior as he broke par all four rounds and tied for fourth, five shots behind.

It ended in tears for Mickelson and his wife -- and in heartache for Westwood, who had his best chance at winning a major end by missing too many short putts.

"Phil being the champion he is hit some great shots coming down the stretch," said Westwood, who closed with a 71 for his best finish ever in a major. "He's been through hard times recently, and he deserves a break or two."

Anthony Kim closed with a 65, the best score of the tournament, and finished alone in third.

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