In the 2010 Masters Tournament, Phil Mickelson’s risk-reward game paid off in the form of a third green jacket when he hit a laser shot from the pine straw at No. 13.
Two years later, his aggression paid zero dividends in the final round. Mickelson stumbled on the fourth hole Sunday and never recovered, posting 72 en route to a tie for third. At 8-under-par, he finished two shots out of the playoff.
Mickelson, 41, began the day one shot behind leader Peter Hanson after posting rounds of 74-68-66. In his bid to become the fourth player to win four or more green jackets, Mickelson watched his tournament come unraveled early in the final round.
He stood at 8-under, two back of Louis Oosthuizen when he came to the 240-yard, par-3 4th. Mickelson aimed his 4-iron shot at the left bunker. His ball traveled left of the bunker, hit a metal railing in the grandstand and shot into the woods.
With his ball buried in the brush, Mickelson played aggressively, trying to hit his ball out with his club turned around backwards. There would be no heroics this time around.
Mickelson advanced the ball inches. He tried the same shot again, and the ball squirted out left. The adventure was far from over.
Mickelson pitched his fourth from a tight lie into the sand. Then, he blasted out and almost holed his fifth. He tapped in for six and fell four shots off the lead.
“I wouldn’t have done anything different on 4,” Mickelson said. “That’s strategically where you have to play it to that pin on that hole. It’s the hardest par on that hole.”
So why didn’t Mickelson take an unplayable lie and go back to the tee for his third shot?
“Well, then I got the hardest shot again. And again, the hardest par,” Mickelson said. “So I’m looking at 5 at best, probably 6. I felt like it was worth the risk and it may have cost me, what, half a shot at most?”
Mickelson tried to mount a second-nine charge, but missed a 20-foot eagle putt on No. 13. Then, he left a long eagle attempt at No. 15 short. With birdies on the two holes, he pulled within two shots each time, but couldn’t get any closer.
“Well, it was a great opportunity to collect another green jacket,” Mickelson said. “It was a fun day playing in the last group, a beautiful day here at Augusta. I hit a ton of good shots on the back nine trying to make something happen and I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole to catch Louis and Bubba (Watson) who played some really good golf, really solid golf in front of us.”