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Woods and Mickelson light up final day

  • Story Highlights
  • Woods and Mickelson started final round at Augusta seven shots off the pace
  • Mickelson charged into contention with a record-tying outward half of 30
  • Woods made his move on back nine but bogeyed the 17th and 18th
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(CNN) -- Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson ensured the 2009 Masters will live long in the memory with an epic head-to-head duel in the final round at Augusta National.

Mickelson (left) and Woods shake hands ahead of their momentous final rounds at Augusta.

Mickelson (left) and Woods shake hands ahead of their momentous final rounds at Augusta.

The top two players in the world started the final round seven adrift of leaders Kenny Perry and eventual winner Angel Cabrera, but feeding off their rivalry charged into contention.

First it was two-time champion Mickelson who showed his intentions with six birdies in a seven holes to be out in a six-under 30 for the front nine -- tying the Masters record.

Woods, like Mickelson had hit a poor drive on the first, both men salvaging par, but after a birdie on the par-5 second he could make little impression until the long eighth.

There a 25-foot fist pumping eagle putt sent the gallery wild and took him to the turn in 33 and within sight of an unlikely 15th major crown.

Mickelson's incredible birdie run left him one shy of the lead as he stood on the tee at the notoriously difficult par-three 12th but a misjudgment saw his nine-iron find the water.

A double bogey took him back to eight-under, one ahead of Woods who had narrowly failed with a birdie putt on the same hole.

Both men revived their hopes with birdies on the long 13th and with the leaders failing to make much impression the excitement in the following gallery reached near fever pitch.

The par-five 15th was also looming as an eagle opportunity and after Woods hit his second to 18-feet, Mickelson responded with an incredible approach almost stiff to the flag.

Woods' eagle putt shaded the hole with the world number one convinced it was going to drop.

Mickelson took some time to size up his four-footer, perhaps realizing its importance, but his poor effort never threatened the hole and he was left with a tricky putt back to make his birdie.

"When I got up over it I just made a tentative stroke. I didn't trust my read, I didn't commit to it, I just made a terrible stroke," Mickelson told the official PGA Tour Web site www.pgatour.com.

Woods could scent his opportunity and conjured up a stunning shot to the 170-yard 16th to four feet, duly holing the birdie putt to draw level with Mickelson at 10-under and within one of the lead.

But the world number one misjudged his tee shot on the 17th and blocked out form a clear approach to the green bogeyed to see his challenge falter.

"When I birdied No. 16, obviously I was right there and hit a good tee shot down 17, the wind held it just enough, wouldn't let it cut back, and consequently, I was dead from there," he admitted.

Mickelson saw his last chance of victory disappear as he missed a six-footer for birdie and in an anticlimactic ending both men bogeyed the 18th.

It left Mickelson in fifth place and Woods tied for sixth, but both men knew that victory had been in their grasp.

"I fought my swing all day and just kind of Band-Aided around and almost won the tournament with a Band-Aid swing today," Woods said.

"I was trying to post 11, shoot 65 today, and I thought that would have been a good number to post. Obviously, I didn't do it."

"I didn't know what number it was going to take," Mickelson said. "I just felt like if I could shoot under par on the back nine, that I would have a very good chance to win the tournament."

The rivalry between the golfing superstars is set to hot up for the remainder of the season, with Mickelson, already a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, threatening to claim top spot in the rankings from Woods, who is returning after a nine-month injury layoff.

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