When Phil Mickelson finally hangs up his driver and lob wedge the shot they’ll show around the world is this one: the 6-iron from the pine needles at the 13th hole on Masters Sunday in 2010.
A decade later we hear from the player himself, his caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, and playing partner Lee Westwood’s caddie Billy Foster.
Foster: It started on Saturday. I walked the pins and when I got back to the caddyshack I said to the other caddies that there was a really good chance of someone holing their second shot on the 14th as it was in that bowl on the back left.
We were playing the 11th, and Lee had a five-shot lead, and by the time we got to the 13th green he was one behind. As soon as I heard the cheer I looked at the board and saw Mickelson was playing the 14th and thought I don’t believe this, it’s Mickelson who has holed the shot that I had called.
Mickelson: I had to hit a shot between those two trees, whether I laid up or went for the green, and I just decided to hit it 90 yards farther than a lay up. I hit 6-iron from 197 yards, only 187 to the front, and I just felt like a good 6-iron was going to be plenty. It was a shot where I kept saying if I just trust my swing, I’ll pull it off.
Foster: On the Sunday Lee was playing all the good golf and Phil was deep in the trees on the 8th but it came back out and he made birdie. He made a brilliant recovery at the 9th where, unless he hit a perfect chip, it would be back to his feet. He made par and Lee three-putted from 25 feet. On the 10th and 11th he made pars from the middle of the trees, then he did it again at the 13th.
Mickelson: A great shot is when you pull it off. A smart shot is when you don’t have the guts to try it. Well, certainly it was critical and it was clutch and it came through at a great time but it wasn’t anywhere near as hard as some other shots. It may have looked hard but there was a pretty good-sized gap between those trees and a pretty good lie. It was just a 6-iron, a lot of green left.
Mackay: Phil let me know almost right away: “I’m going [for the green] here. When the green clears in front of us I’m going.” The gap between the trees? TV didn’t do it justice. It was about the width of a box of a dozen balls I would say.
Mickelson: I had a good lie in the pine needles. I was going to have to go through that gap if I laid up or went for the green. I was going to have to hit a decent shot. The gap wasn’t huge, but it was big enough for a ball to fit through. There was a good four or five feet I thought between the trees.
Mackay: I went back in to Phil and said to him, “Hey, let me throw this at you. You’re the boss, but does this change the way you’re going to approach this shot given the fact that you are tied for the lead now?”
He looked at me and said, “Let me tell you something. If I am going to win this tournament, I am going to have to hit a really good shot under a lot of pressure at some point. I am going to do it right now.” That was my entrée to get out of the way and watch him do his thing. And he hit arguably the greatest shot of his career.
Mickelson: He didn’t try to talk me out of it, we were in between 6 or 5, because sometimes out of the pine needles, the ball will come out a little slow. I just felt like it was clean enough that it was going to come out fine and I wanted to hit something hard, so I hit 6.
Foster: I was stood in the middle of the fairway talking to Lee and he ummed and ahhed for what felt like 10 minutes and you thought he would just bump it down there.
Then he hit this shot and as the ball was in the air I thought, ‘What the f*** is he doing?’ It was absolutely kamikaze. For me it was in the water all the way, and somehow it clawed its way over to four feet.
Mickelson: I made a good swing, went right at the pin. I needed to trust my swing and hit a shot, and it came off perfect.
Foster: I said to Lee when he knocks this in I’m going to get down on my hands and knees and bow to him. Along with Seve’s shot from behind the wall in Switzerland it was the best shot I had ever seen. And then he missed the putt.
Mickelson: That was the one time I kind of slacked off. I’ve been putting so well and had a good thought and I don’t know what happened there. It just slipped.
Foster: Phil has got by far the best short game I’ve seen – and I worked for Seve for five years. He’s that good – and that’s why he wins at Augusta. It was the same with Mike Weir, he was the best holer-out for five years.
My ears were ringing that day we played with Mickelson and it probably took about five hours for them to settle down afterwards. It was hard to be in the middle of that cauldron of Mickelson love.