AUGUSTA, GA. (APR. 9, 2017) – Phil Mickelson hit more fairways at The Masters than he averages per week this year on the PGA Tour, but hit fewer greens in regulation, made fewer sand saves and needed more putts. At two over par, he shared 22nd place, seven strokes behind Sergio Garcia, who tipped Justin Rose in a one-hole playoff for his first major championship victory.
The first two days were tough tests in high winds but Phil got through them in good shape, four strokes off the lead after shooting 71-73.
After the second round he said, “I’m really tired. It was obvious there in the end when I played the last five holes very poorly” – dropping three shots in that span after being two under par through 13.
Still, he felt he was in good position for the weekend, though he did say, “I’ve got to sharpen up my short game.”
Then it got weird.
Saturday he birdied the first two holes and doubled the third. Sunday he eagled the second and again doubled the third, where for the second day he made a surprising short-game gaffe. At the par-3 fourth, he drove well right and over the green into a wall of bushes and played a provisional that was at best visible. He somehow found the first ball and made miraculous bogey. But after a bogey at the seventh he made turn two over par for the day with too big a hill to climb on the inward nine.
Phil was 10 under par on the par-fives for the week but five-over on the front nine and just one-under on the back despite playing the four long holes five-under. Only in the first two rounds did he make the turn under par, both times just one under.
“It’s the greatest week of the year, it’s the greatest day of the year,” Phil said after he finished. “I made a lot of mistakes this week, I didn’t play the way I wanted to, but 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 bit quicker, a little bit firmer than they had been, and I just thought it set itself up for a terrific weekend.
“I didn’t play the way I wanted to, but I got off to a great start yesterday and today, two under through 2 and then that third hole had my lunch.”