Phil Mickelson makes shock early exit at the Masters
Phil Mickelson was heading home on Friday after missing the cut at the Masters for the first time since 1997 and just the second time in 22 appearances since his 1991 debut.
That was the result of a 73 at Augusta National that was not enough to repair the damage done by his opening 76. At five over, the five-time major winner missed the cut by one stroke.
With Tiger Woods absent through injury it will mean that Masters weekend will unravel without either of the two players who have most marked it over the last two decades for the first time since 1994.
Mickelson, who won his three Masters titles in 2004, 2006, and 2010 and who has 11 other top-10 finishes, said he had not been troubled by the painful muscle in his side that disrupted his build-up to the year’s first major.
“Physically I feel great. I haven’t had any problems. I’ve been able to play healthy. I haven’t had to think about it. But I’m not really sharp,” the 43-year-old Californian said.
“Why couldn’t I get it going? You know, 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. So it’s tough to overcome those big numbers.”
A fatal blow to Mickelson’s hopes was a triple-bogey six at the treacherous par-three 12th in the heart of Amen Corner, where he was three times in a bunker in a display that would resonate with many high handicappers.
“What happened at 12 was I hit in the front bunker. And there was no sand where I was at. I caught the liner of the bunker and bladed it across the green and the same thing happened on the other side.
“It went back and forth, three bunkers, before I finally got it to stay on grass.”
Asked if he would continue to follow the tournament on television once he got back home, Mickelson replied: “Probably, yeah. It’s an exciting tournament, I probably will. It’s kind of my punishment.”
It will be no consolation to the reigning British Open champion that he was in good company on five over, missing the cut by the narrowest of margins.
Like Mickelson, Englishman Luke Donald can point the finger of blame at the Augusta traps after he was hit with a two-stroke penalty on Thursday for swiping at the sand after failing to get out of a bunker.
“I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get out of a bunker. I’ve done it twice this week already. So I just carelessly swiped the sand,” the former world number one said.
“As soon as I did it, I knew that probably wasn’t the right thing to do. It was stupid on my part.”