American golfer Phil Mickelson has won the Masters to finally shake the dubious title of 'the best golfer never to win a major tournament'. Mickelson played a brilliant final nine holes Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia to forge a one-shot victory over Ernie Els of South Africa.

Playing in more than 40 major golf tournaments with no wins and eight top three finishes, Mickelson began the day Sunday with the share of a two-shot lead with fellow American Chris DiMarco. Both players fell behind Els by as much as three shots on the first nine holes.

But Mickelson's round was quite different on the back nine, where he carded four birdies, including the dramatic winner. On the final hole, his long, six-meter putt gently circled the rim of the hole before dropping in.

Mickelson's final round 69 put him at nine-under-par 279. He says he knew his time had come to win a major. "I kept saying to myself all day that this is my day, that this was the day. I kept believing that something good was going to happen, that this was going to be it," he says. "I cannot believe that I shot 31 [on the back nine] to win by one shot. It is just an amazing feeling."

K.J. Choi of South Korea placed third at six-under-par 282.

Former Masters champion Bernhard Langer of Germany and Spaniard Sergio Garcia tied at fourth place, three-under-par. American Chris DiMarco ended up seven shots off the pace at two-under-par in a tie for sixth. World number one Tiger Woods was tied for 22nd place at two-over par 290.