Phil Mickelson Falls Short At The Masters
Another Masters tournament is in the books, with Bubba Watson winning his first green jacket by virtue of an amazing wedge shot on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff against Louis Oosthuizen. While Watson’s shot from the woods at the 10th and Oosthuizen’s albatross on par-5 2nd will go down in tournament lore, the other story of the day was Phil Mickelson’s coming just short of capturing his fourth Masters.
After his riveting 3rd round performance put him in today’s final pairing with Peter Hanson, Lefty seemed on the verge of winning his fifth major championship. He stole the show on Saturday, shooting an awe inspiring 30 on the back-nine that was highlighted by his eagle on the 13th and a flop shot to set up a birdie on the 15th. Mickelson opened up his final round with three straight pars, seemingly in control and full of confidence on a course he loves playing more than any other. Unfortunately, one bad swing on the par-3 fourth led to a triple-bogey, forcing him to play catch up for the remainder of the day.
As the leaders approached the back-nine, it felt like it was only a matter of time before Lefty made one final charge. Despite his error on the fourth, the tournament was still there for the taking with Oosthuizen sitting only a few strokes ahead. In recent years you almost expect to see Phil firing at the pins or draining eagle putts down the stretch at Augusta, it almost wouldn’t feel like spring was forthcoming if that wasn’t the case. It’s impossible to forget his final round duel with Ernie Els on the back-nine of the ’04 Masters, or his shot from the pine straw on the 13th to set up an eagle in 2010.
Unfortunately for Phil and his legions of followers at Augusta, he fell just a little short today. Although he wouldn’t make another bogey for the rest of his round after the fourth hole, he didn’t make enough putts down the stretch to work his way into the playoff with Watson and Oosthuizen. He barely missed an eagle putt on No. 13, and we will never know how the rest of the day would’ve played out had that one dropped. In the end Lefty finished two shots behind the leaders at 8-under par, and looking back two poorly played holes out of 72 probably cost him the tournament. The fact that he was able to overcome two triple-bogeys (the other being his 7 on the par-4 tenth in Round One) and still be in contention is a testament to his all-around game along with his knowledge and comfort level of playing at the Masters.
To a certain degree, Mickelson’s career is one filled with missed opportunities as he very easily could have eight or so major championships to his name by now. But to focus solely on the missed opportunities would discount the brilliance of his game and the creativity in which he plays. It was hard not watching Bubba hit some of his miraculous shots today without seeing a little of Lefty in him, as both players can be a little unorthodox at times but still pull off shots that few others in the sport can.
Although Mickelson turns 42 this June, I firmly believe that we will see him in contention in the Masters for many years to come. Given his length off of the tee and one of a kind short game, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him pick up a few more green jackets, maybe even one day years down the line eclipse Jack Nicklaus as the oldest golfer to ever win a major. There are a few (if any) events in sports as exciting as Sunday at the Masters, and while new contenders come and go with each passing year, it’s refreshing to see that we can still count on Lefty to be in the hunt and always ready to put on a show at Augusta National.
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