The 2010 Masters was the first sporting event ever to be broadcast live in 3D - but this was something from another dimension altogether.
Phil Mickelson’s march to a third green jacket and his fourth major triumph was a victory not just for the left hander but also for the game itself and for the runner up, Lee Westwood.
The 39-year old American didn’t just entertain the sports world and a record TV audience with a scintillating back nine performance to win by three shots. He overcame some horrific personal turmoil at home, where his wife Amy and mother Mary have been battling breast cancer.
While Westwood again came up short in his bid for that elusive first major, the Englishman generously acknowledged that he had been beaten by the better man
Westwood will never forget Mickelson’s shot to the 13th. The world No 2 found himself on a bed of pine needles in the trees on the right but rose to the occasion like a true champion, threading a towering, 207-yard six iron through a four foot gap, fist pumping as the ball danced to a halt just four feet from the pin.
“It’s one of the few shots, really, that only Phil could pull off,” Westwood said. “I think most people would have just chipped that one out. But, you know, that’s what great players do, like I said yesterday, pull off great shots at the right time.
“When I needed to put a bit of pressure on Phil I did do, but he played nicely on the back nine when he needed to, and the second shot into 13 was incredible.”
“He didn’t play flawlessly all day but he has got such a magical short game that he can afford to hit it in the trees and get away with it…..it almost felt like a two shot swing on the ninth when I three putted and he made par from the trees again; and then he made par out the trees on ten; then he hit someone on the head on 11 and bounced back into play and he made par there. Then he played 12 and 13 fantastically and then was solid coming in like a true champion does.”
Showing true class, Westwood added: “You know, he’s been through hard times recently and he deserves a break or two.”
Mickelson appreciated Westwood’s remarks all the more, having played the bridesmaid himself six times in major championships.
“I’ve been in that position, and it sucks,” he said. “But, I also told him he is playing some of the best golf of anybody in the world, he’s an incredible player and I pull for him and I want him to win his first major soon, because he is that kind of talent, that type of player and a quality guy.”
Always a joker, Westwood had enough sense of humour to see the funny side when a golf writer addressed him as “Phil” in the post round press conference.
“I’m Lee. Phil is coming in in a minute. Tall guy with big, angular shoulders. He’ll be wearing a green jacket.” Classic Westwood.
As for Tiger Woods, a brilliant fourth, the world No 1 is admired but not loved by all.
He gave a less than friendly post round interview to Peter Kostis afterwards, explaining that while fourth was fine, he had come to win. Having vowed to curb his temper tantrums, he broke his promise and remained defiant and unrepentant.
Had he already forgotten the remarks on Augusta Chairman Billy Payne earlier in the week?
Payne said: “Certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par; but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change. I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.”
With guys like Mickelson and Westwood providing both the smiles and the swings, Tiger wont be missed if he decides not to reappear until the Open.
Golf needs three dimensional human beings, not robots.