AUGUSTA Ga. -- Phil Mickelson had said Wednesday night that he had some issues with his golf game after an opening 4-over-par 76 in the Masters. Now he will have plenty of time to deal with them after missing the cut in his favorite event for the first time since 1997.
Mickleson, a three-time champion, added a 1-over 73 Friday despite making birdies on three of his final five holes and ended at 5-over 149, one stroke from the cut of 4-over. His bunker-to-bunker-to-bunker triple bogey at the 155-yard 12th hole without even hitting a shot into Rae’s Creek guarding the green in front was the major reason he will have the weekend off.
“What happened at 12 was I hit the front bunker” off the tee, he said. “And there was no sand where I was at. I caught the liner of the bunker and bladed it across the green [into another bunker], and the same thing happened on the other side. It went back and forth, three bunkers, before I finally got it onto the grass.”
Two putts later, one of the game’s finest sand players had a six on his card, his worst score on that hole in 83 previous rounds, and it was over and he was eventually out of the tournament.
Mickelson declined to blame his previous physical problems this year for his early demise and said: “I didn’t play great, I didn’t play bad … I felt there were some birdies out there. If you played well, you could make some birdies.
“Why couldn’t I get it going? I don’t really have a great answer for you. I’ve actually played reasonably well for a majority of the holes and then the ones that I let slide I end up making a big number. It’s tough to overcome those big numbers.”
And will he watch the tournament Saturday and Sunday?
“Probably, yeah,” he said. “It’ll kind of be my punishment.”
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn ranked his Friday 68 as being “right up there” among the best of his 35 rounds played in 11 Masters appearances. It allowed him to get within four shots of the lead and in contention for his first major title.
“It’s a tricky golf course,” he said. “You can try to do the right thing, but if you’re not quite on, it becomes extremely difficult out there. I came in here last year and played poorly, and I felt I learned so much from that week. That even without playing great I could find my way around the course, put myself in the right positions. It’s probably the first time I really understood the golf course completely.”
Stadler makes cut
It was mission accomplished for Kevin Stadler, 34, playing in his first Masters. At one point, he was actually tied for the lead after a birdie at the fifth hole but eventually faltered on the back nine and posted a 73, good for a tie for ninth place and a chance to get into contention on the weekend.
Stadler and his father, Craig, this week became the first father-son ever to play in the same Masters. Craig, the 1982 champion, shot 77 Friday and ended what could be his final Masters with a 15-under total of 159. He will now stick around over the weekend and have to live vicariously through his son.
“It’s been as good as I expected it to be,” Kevin said. “It’s fantastic, a blast so far. … Once you’re off and running down that first fairway, I don’t think anyone is going to be over-awed. It’s just another golf tournament. It might be the best golf tournament on the planet, but it’s just another day of professional golf.”