AUGUSTA, Ga. – Phil Mickelson stood on the tee at the par-3 fourth hole Sunday at the Masters and hit the exact shot he had envisioned. Fifteen minutes later he walked away with triple bogey, his second of the tournament, and had lost hopes of a fourth Masters green jacket.
After signing for a 72, good enough for a third-place tie, Mickelson said he’d hit the exact same shot the next time he’s in a similar situation. In fact, he insisted that left of that hole is the desired location.
“Tactically, what I try to do there is aim left of the pin and I try to hit either the left edge or in the bunker or just left of the bunker where I’m chipping up the green, chipping into the slope,” Mickelson said. “Usually I can get that up and down.”
“If it goes into people and stops right there, no problem. If it goes into the grandstand, no problem. It hit the metal railing and shot in the trees. And not only was it unplayable, but I couldn’t take an unplayable. There was no place to go other than back to the tee.”
If nothing else, there is a method to Mickelson’s madness, even if sometimes it’s maddening. He knew where he would aim once he got to that hole and he stuck with his strategy.
Even though it seemed like Mickelson was out of the tournament he rebounded with birdies on Nos. 8, 12 and 15 to shoot even par, but it was two shots out of a playoff between Louis Oosthuizen and eventual winner Bubba Watson.
Mickelson, 41, had a chance to win the British Open last summer but the putter abandoned him when he needed it most. Then there is U.S. Open heartache where he has finished in the top-10 nine times, including five second-place finishes. Including this year, Mickelson has now finished third at the Masters on five occasions.
Now, it’s unrealistic to think that Mickelson would win all these near-misses, but it’s certainly realistic to think he should’ve won three or four more, and quite possibly the career grand slam.