Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Mickelson joins golf-history elite

AFP , KAUAI, HAWAII

Masters champion Phil Mickelson became only the fifth player in professional golf history to fire a 59, tapping in a birdie putt on the final hole on Wednesday to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

The American's astonishing 13-under par final round gave him a two-day winning total of 17-under par 127, matching the tournament record of Tiger Woods at the 36-hole showdown of the year's four major title winners.

Mickelson, who had 11 birdies and an eagle on the bogey-free day, had a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole for an unprecedented 58 but the putt curved just left of the cup.

The southpaw stepped up and nudged in the last of his 23 putts on the day to make history and begin a roar from the crowd at Poipu Bay Golf Club.

"I felt like this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." Mickelson said. "I was glad that last putt went in."

Mickelson, who closed the first round with an eagle, missed a perfect chance to put himself alone with the greatest 18 holes in golf history but took the failure in stride.

"To me, there's not much difference between a 58 and 59," Mickelson said. "There's a huge difference between 59 and 60 ... I just wanted to make sure I two-putted."

Only three men in US PGA Tour history, all Americans, had previously fired a 59, the first being Al Geiberger in round two of the 1977 Memphis Classic.

Chip Beck matched the feat in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. David Duval fired a 59 in the final round of the 1999 Bob Hope Classic.

Sweden's Annika Sorenstam fired her 59 in the second round of the 2001 Standard Register LPGA tournament.

Mickelson qualified for the event by snapping an 0-for-46 major drought last April when he captured the Masters at Augusta National. Now he has confidence that 2005 could be an even better year.

"I'm looking forward to next year," Mickelson said. "I'm starting to gain some confidence. To be able to come out and play like this, it's really incredible."

World number one Vijay Singh of Fiji, the PGA Championship winner, was second, five strokes behind Mickelson after a 66 and one ahead of South Africa's Retief Goosen, the US Open winner, who finished with a 68.

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