Mickelson defies expectations with Masters 65

Phil Mickelson rolled back the years to deliver Sunday's best final round at the Masters, with his seven-under 65 earning him a tie for second and a place in the history books.

The three-time Masters winner finished the tournament on eight under-par 276, four shots behind Spanish winner Jon Rahm and level with fellow American Brooks Koepka.

The 52-year-old sat back to watch Rahm finish his round knowing that a late collapse from the Spaniard could have brought him into contention for the title, but it was not be.

"It was a fun day, and you just never know what can happen. There was nine holes left to go when I walked off the golf course. I was two behind and Jon played an amazing back nine," Mickelson said.

"I mean, a lot can happen on that back nine, a lot of good can happen and a lot of bad, and he played some incredible golf all week long, and is a very worthy champion. Easy to see why he's regarded as the best player in the world, and he validated that today."

It was also his career low score at Augusta equalling his first round score at 1996 when he finished third behind Nick Faldo and Greg Norman.

The left-hander had predicted on Friday that he could shoot a low score at the weekend, saying he was back to the level of golf he played in his heyday after getting in shape.

But while his optimism and confidence appeared sincere, few would have expected his final-round showing after he made three-over 75 in the rain-impacted third round.

"I feel like it was evident to me that I was hitting a lot of good shots, that I was playing well (but I wasn't getting the score out of it," he said.

"Today was a great day for me to stay present and just keep hitting good shots, even after I might have had a mess-up here or there, I was able to stay present, keep hitting good shots," he said.

Mickelson has dropped 25 pounds (11.33kg) in recent months but says as well as his improved shape he has benefitted from the right mindset.

"I really worked hard in the off-season to get ready. I've been shooting some really low scores at home, and today I kind of let it happen rather than trying to force it, and I had a really good day and made some noise," he said.

"Unfortunately it wasn't enough, but it was really a lot of fun for me to play at this level again, and it's encouraging for me going forward the rest of the year."

Mickelson, who angered many golf fans when he quit the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, was wary of been seeing to exploit his success and the strong showing from LIV golfers Koepka and Patrick Reed.

"I'm very appreciative that we're here, that we are able to play in the majors," Mickelson said.

"And I thought it was exciting that this tournament rose above it all to have the best players in the world here and lost all the pettiness, that was great," he said.

"But this tournament isn't about what tour you play from. There's players from all over, all over the world on many different tours, and you're bringing the best players to play against each other in the majors.

"And that's what it's all about. That's what the game of golf should be. There's always going to be and should always be a place for historical events like this, but it's OK to have a little bit of difference and variety in the game of golf."

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