Golf: THRILL MICKELSON; Master Phil: Win Tops Hero Jack's '86 Triumph

Article excerpt

PHIL MICKELSON reckons he's the Master thriller with a bigger sting in the tail than Jack Nicklaus.

In every poll taken over the past 18 years the Golden Bear's record sixth win has come out tops as the most exciting Augusta finish ever.

It certainly got Mickelson's vote until the magic of Sunday night that finally made him a Major champion.

With his heart still pumping wildly under his Green Jacket the American said: 'I don't think any Masters will ever compare to 1986 but for me this one does. I'm the luckiest man alive.'

Nicklaus determined to show he wasn't washed up at 46 came home in six-under-par 30, making an eagle on the 15th and birdies at 16and17to beat Greg Norman and Tom Kite by one.

Mickelson determined to show he had what it took to lift a Major after an amazing 17 top-10 finishes covered the back nine in 31, holing birdie putts at 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18.

The 33-year-old, in his 47th Major, entered that stretch three behind Ernie Els, who had eagled the eighth and 13th, but with a dramatic closing 20-footer Mickelson rid himself of the tag of eternal bridesmaid.

He has twice suffered the agony of losing by a stroke in Majors when Payne Stewart holed his final putt at the 1999 US Open and when David Toms repeated the heartbreak in the2001 US PGA. …