In one of the biggest surprises of the 77th Masters, Phil Mickelson has been in a word, dreadful.
The three-time Masters champion has looked less than ordinary and at times unsure of what exactly to do. This on a golf course, Augusta National, that he has owned at different times in his career.
Shooting a front-nine 38 in Thursday’s first round, Mickelson struggled with the course setup and conditions. He was one of the few as 12 players broke 70, 33 broke par and 45 shot even or better.
With a one-under 71, Mickelson was at least in touch of the leaders at 6 under that day, but came off the course questioning everything.
“They’re soft and they are slow,” Mickelson said of the typically quick greens. “And consequently we have 45 people at par or better. But that means that I’ve got to change my whole mindset and just get after these pins, because the ball’s not running like it used to and I’m giving this course way too much respect because of my past knowledge than the way I should be playing it today.”
Mickelson then fared worse with a five-over 76 Friday, effectively shooting himself out of the tournament. A round in the low 60s in Saturday’s third round could have created hope – but instead he got a shot worse with a 77.
“I just played terrible,” Mickelson said after his worst round since his final round in 2007. “There’s no way around it. I’m just not hitting very good golf shots, missing it in bad spots and not really knowing which side I’m going to miss it on.
“So my play has been beyond terrible, and that’s certainly disappointing.
Surprisingly, Mickelson had made the switch to carry two three-woods this week, including a Phrankenwood, a modified three-wood. While they performed as he wanted them to, the ball striking – a staple of his game – was not even close.
“If I look back on it, it’s been my iron play that’s been very poor, poor iron shots in the water, poor distance control, missing it in the wrong spots, that wedge yesterday on 9,” Mickelson said, outlining why he won’t win a fourth green jacket this year. “I just had some poor iron play this week, and unfortunately that’s kind of been the case this year for me with the exception of Phoenix. I just have not hit my irons the way I’ve been hitting them the last few years.”