Jack Nicklaus in 1986 vs. Phil Mickelson in 2004

1 of 11 Phil Sandlin/AP (Nicklaus); Kevin Lamarque/Reuters (Mickelson)
Both final nines were brilliant, but which was best: Nicklaus's 30 in 1986 or Mickelson's 31 in 2004? Jack: Follow the red lines for Nicklaus Phil: Follow the blue lines for Mickelson Yellow signifies changes to Augusta National
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Par-4 10th (Camellia) 1986: 485 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Birdie 2004: 495 yards Phil Mickelson ... Par Changes from 1986 to 2004: Tee moved back 10 yards and left five yards Jack 1. Driver, 290 yards, right rough 2. Four-iron, 195 yards, front right of green
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Par-4 11th (White Dogwood) 1986: 455 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Birdie 2004: 490 yards Phil Mickelson ... Par Changes from 1986 to 2004: Green, pond and bunkers adjusted; tee moved back 35 yards and right five yards; trees added right of fairway Jack 1. Driver, 300 yards, fairway 2. Eight-iron, 150 yards, right middle 3. 20-foot birdie putt Phil 1. Driver, 297 yards, left rough 2. Seven-iron, 193 yards, right middle 3. 25-foot birdie putt, short 4. Eight-inch par putt
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Par-3 12th (Golden Bell) 1986: 155 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Bogey 2004: 155 yards Phil Mickelson ... Birdie Changes from 1986 to 2004: None Jack 1. Seven-iron, back left fringe 2. Pitching wedge, 60 feet 3. Eight-foot putt, long and right 4. Six-inch bogey putt Phil 1. Eight-iron, long and left 2. 15-foot birdie putt
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Par-5 13th (Azalea) 1986: 465 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Birdie 2004: 510 yards Phil Mickelson ... Birdie Changes from 1986 to 2004: Tee moved back 45 yards; swales left and rear of green moderated; creek in front of green modified Jack 1. Three-wood, 250 yards, left side of fairway 2. Three-iron, 210 yards, left middle 3. 40-foot putt, short and left 4. One-foot birdie putt Phil 1. Driver, 317 yards, right side of fairway 2. Seven-iron, 193 yards, right 3. 20-foot putt, long and right 4. 18-inch birdie putt
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Par-4 14th (Chinese Fir) 1986: 405 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Par 2004: 440 yards Phil Mickelson ... Birdie Changes from 1986 to 2004: Tee moved back 35 yards; green modified to create back-left pin position Jack 1. Three-wood, 255 yards, right side of fairway 2. Six-iron, 160 yards, back fringe 3. Pitching wedge, 40 feet, short 4. One-foot par putt Phil 1. Driver, 298 yards, left side of fairway 2. Pitching wedge, 146 yards, just left 3. Six-inch birdie putt
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Par-5 15th (Firethorn) 1986: 500 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Eagle 2004: 500 yards Phil Mickelson ... Par Changes from 1986 to 2004: Fairway mounds reduced; trees added right and left of fairway Jack 1. Driver, 298 yards, middle of fairway 2. Four-iron, 202 yards, left on green 3. 12-foot eagle putt Phil 1. Driver, 305 yards, left rough 2. Wedge, 120 yards, fairway 3. Wedge, 75 yards, long 4. 13-foot putt, long and right 5. 18-inch par putt
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Par-3 16th (Redbud) 1986: 170 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Birdie 2004: 170 yards Phil Mickelson ... Birdie Changes from 1986 to 2004: None Jack 1. Five-iron, 182 yards, short 2. Three-foot birdie putt Phil 1. Eight-iron, 178 yards, short 2. 18-foot birdie putt
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Par-4 17th (Nandina) 1986: 400 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Birdie 2004: 425 yards Phil Mickelson ... Par Changes from 1986 to 2004: Tee moved back 25 yards Jack 1. Driver, 280 yards, left rough 2. Pitching wedge, 125 yards, left 3. 11-foot birdie putt Phil 1. Driver, 305 yards, middle of fairway 2. Gap wedge, 135 yards, long 3. 20-foot putt, long and left 4. One-foot par putt
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Par-4 18th (Holly) 1986: 405 yards Jack Nicklaus ... Par 2004: 465 yards Phil Mickelson ... Birdie Changes from 1986 to 2004: Tee moved back 60 yards, right five yards; fairway bunkers enlarged 10 percent; new trees left of fairway bunkers Jack 1. Three-wood, 230 yards, left center of fairway 2. Five-iron, 185 yards, middle right and short 3. 40-foot putt, short 4. Six-inch par putt Phil 1. Three-wood, 303 yards, middle of fairway 2. Eight-iron, 162 yards, long 3. 18-foot birdie putt
11 of 11 Phil Sandlin/AP
AND THE WINNER IS ... Mickelson played a cleaner nine than Nicklaus, with five birdies and four pars. Phil also hit more greens in regulation and put his approaches much closer to the hole. But the most impressive factor in Phil's favor is how, after finishing second or third eight times in previous majors, he closed out his round to win his first. Under the tremendous pressure of knowing he needed a birdie at the last to beat Ernie Els, who had finished two groups ahead, Mickelson conjured one, leaping into the air with his arms and legs outstretched the moment after sinking the 18-foot winner. Nicklaus's play was equally brilliant. Although a bogey at 12 tarnished his card, he countered that with an eagle at 15 and also had five birdies. Nicklaus wins the degree-of-difficulty conversation. The longest club Mickelson had into a green was a six-iron (including on the two par-5s), while Nicklaus's approach shots included a three-iron (13th hole), two four-irons (10 and 15) and a five-iron (16). But the case for Nicklaus rests on these three facts: Mickelson was only a shot behind at the turn, while Nicklaus trailed by five; Nicklaus, at 46, was past his prime, while Mickelson was 33; and, most critical, Nicklaus's back nine score of 30 was a stroke lower than Mickelson's 31. All hail King Jack, the Masters winner with the best final nine.