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2004

Phil Mickelson wins first major at Masters

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 sports jacket given to each Masters champ.

In 2005, Mickelson won the PGA Championship and he went on to win his second and third Masters victories in 2006 and 2010, making him one of five golfers who have won the Masters three times each. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have claimed victory four times each. Jack Nicklaus holds the record for Masters wins, with six.

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