"I'm not laying up," Mickelson shot back. He had found an opening between the trees and felt confident that he could squeeze his ball through. "Then we found out Choi made 6 [up ahead at 13], so I tried again," Mackay recalls. Mickelson was unmoved, and Bones later recounted his boss's reasoning: "There's an opening in the trees. It's not as if I have to play a big slice or a big hook; it's only a six-iron. All I have to do is execute."
As it became clear that Mickelson was going to give it a go, a palpable current of electricity ran through the gallery. Among the masses was Phil's swing coach, Butch Harmon. What was he thinking? "You can't print it," says Harmon. In Mickelson's mind the shot did not carry a high degree of difficulty. "Well, I had to hit a shot between those two trees, whether I laid up or went for the green, and I decided to hit it 90 yards farther than a layup," he says. "I felt as if a good six-iron was going to be plenty. It was a shot where I kept saying, If I simply trust my swing, I'll pull it off. And I made a good swing; it went right at the pin." His ball stopped five feet from the flag and will forever symbolize Mickelson's courage and creativity.
Says Mackay, "That's Phil—he simplifies things. 'Give me the club, and get out of the way.'"
Mickelson missed the eagle putt but regrouped to bury a tough comebacker, pushing his lead to two strokes. He put the tournament away with another birdie on 15, the watery, do-or-die hole at which many Masters have been lost. "I hit a good drive there," he says. "It was playing 196 with the downhill factored in. Normally that's a stock seven-iron, but I had adrenaline going a little bit, and I ripped an eight-iron and ended up 15 feet from the hole just to the right and trickled that thing down and two-putted."
That's how spectacular Mickelson's Masters was: He made this ridiculously important moment seem routine. Ho hum, another birdie, another green jacket.
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