If Phil Mickelson has said it once, he’s said it a hundred times.
“It’s Masters Sunday,” he said. “It’s the greatest day of the year.”
There’s no other place Mickelson would rather be than Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday, except where he was standing when he made those comments this year. As the leaders were making the turn, Mickelson was already finished with his round, an early tee time the by-product of a 2-over round Saturday that knocked him out of contention.
Mickelson continued to slide down the leaderboard before making a late rally. Birdies on three of the last six holes got Mickelson back to even par for the day and a 2-over finish for the tournament, tied for 22nd.
“I made a lot of mistakes this week and didn’t play the way I wanted to,” Mickelson said. “This weekend the course was just perfect in that the pins were gettable, you could make some birdies, the weather was nice. The greens were a little quicker and firmer than they had been, but it just set itself up for a terrific weekend and I didn’t capitalize on it. And that’s disappointing.”
Mickelson could point to one hole that sabotaged his chance of being right in the hunt for his fourth green jacket. And it wasn’t any of the ones that jump off the page as the most treacherous at Augusta National.
Coming into the weekend, Mickelson had never made worse than a bogey on No. 3, playing the hole in 17-under-par. But after getting off to a birdie-birdie start in Saturday’s third round, Mickelson put a 4-iron into the left fairway bunker off the tee and after hitting out short, a chunked wedge rolled back down to his feet and he took a double-bogey, starting his downward spiral.
He nearly duplicated the performance Sunday after coming off an eagle on No. 2. He once again hit a 4-iron into the bunker, and this time his shot out sailed over the green. A chip came up short of the green and he three-putted from eight feet for his second double in as many days.
“That third hole had my lunch,” Mickelson said with a slight laugh. “Just bad shots. I was trying both times to hit 4-iron up on top of the fairway so I could have a full shot in where I felt I could make birdie. But I hit terrible 4-irons into the bunker and my short game was not very good this week, very below par. It cost me a lot of shots.”
Bogeys at No. 3, 7 and 11 pushed Mickelson to 3-over for the day before he righted the ship. After a birdie at 13, Mickelson narrowly missed a 10-foot eagle putt on 15 and followed by hitting to five feet for birdie on 16 to get back to even.
But whatever enjoyment he found in a solid finish was lost in his disappointing showing overall.
“It’s fun to be here, and that’s not the attitude I want,” Mickelson said. “I made a lot of mistakes all week long and just couldn’t recover from that.”