Lefty's putting derails chances
The traditional Sunday roars echoed through the pines at Augusta National Golf Club -- perhaps at an unprecedented rate -- for the final round at the Masters Tournament. In a break from tradition, few were for Phil Mickelson.
The three-time Masters winner typically lurks near the top of the Sunday leaderboard, placing in the top 10 in 11 of the previous 12 Masters. The defending champion posted a quiet 2-over-par 74, however, to finish tied for 27th at 1-under.
He said an inconsistent putter kept him from taking advantage of favorable scoring positions.
"It's out there because the greens are receptive, the pins are in spots you can get to and there's not much wind, so it was out there. But I struggled with the blade again today," Mickelson said. "I love these greens. I usually putt them very well, but I struggled this week."
Mickelson's round was derailed by one troublesome hole on each side. After a birdie on No. 2, he double bogeyed the par-4 5th and made the turn at 2-over for his round. He got strokes back with birdies at Nos. 10 and 13 before another double bogey, this time at the par-3 16th.
He predicted after shooting 71 Saturday that a big final round was possible.
"I never feel like you're out of it here," he said. "I felt like if I could shoot something in the low 60s, 63 or 64, you just never know what might happen."
Mickelson ranked third in putting in winning last week's Houston Open, but his average of 1.69 putts per hole this week tied for 39th out of the 49 players who made the cut. That was particularly painful, he said, because the course setup was begging for one of his signature Sunday birdie runs.
"The greens were so soft, the pins were not tucked, that you could really miss it in spots you historically can't and still get up and down," Mickelson said. "I thought you could be very aggressive this week, and it was great. I tried. I loved the way it was set up, but I didn't take advantage of it."
Mickelson plans to take three weeks off before returning to action May 5 at Quail Hollow, followed by The Players Championship the next week.
"I feel like my game has been coming around, and I'm looking forward to getting back out and competing," he said.
Reach David Ching at email@example.com.