On this day in 2004, Phil Mickelson wins the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, his first major championship in nearly 12 years as a professional golfer.
A native of California, Mickelson graduated from Arizona State University, where he won three NCAA individual championships and three Haskins Awards as the nation’s outstanding college golfer. In 1991, while still an amateur, he won his first PGA Tour tournament, the Northern Telecom Open. Mickelson turned pro in 1992 and went on to win a number of tournaments; however, a victory in one of the four majors–the most prestigious tournaments in pro golf: the Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship in Britain and the PGA Championship–eluded him. He finished in second or third place in eight majors and became known as the best player in golf without a major win.
The Masters Tournament is the first of the four majors to be held each year. The inaugural Masters took place in 1934, a year after Augusta National opened in Augusta, Georgia, as a private golf club. On April 11, 2004, Mickelson’s majors losing streak ended when he sunk an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole at the Masters Tournament to defeat Ernie Els by a single stroke. Mickelson, who finished with a nine-under-par 279, won $1.17 million and was awarded the traditional green sport given to each Masters champ.
In 2005, Mickelson won the PGA Championship and in 2006 he captured his second Masters victory. As of 2007, nine men, including Mickelson, have won the Masters twice. Four golfers have won the Masters three times each, while Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have claimed victory four times each. Jack Nicklaus holds the record for Masters wins, with six.