CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson, who has finished 12th or better seven times in nine appearances at Quail Hollow, is one shot off Boo Weekley's lead at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Weekley, who tied for sixth last week in New Orleans, is 4 under through 15 holes while Mickelson has played 12. Also at 3 under are Charlotte resident Robert Karlsson, Nick Watney, Ryan Moore, Jordan Spieth and Derek Ernst.
Mickelson's best finish at Quail Hollow is second in 2010. He had his eye on the big silver trophy that Sunday until Rory McIlroy closed with a 62 and ended up winning by four.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson was at a loss to explain his performance at the 2013 Masters.
The man who has won three of the last 10 Masters only broke par once at Augusta National this week. And he followed that 71 on Thursday with rounds of 76, 77 and 73 to finish at 9 over.
"I just had an off year," Mickelson said. "I don't know what to tell you. I played poorly. ... This is my favorite place to be, my favorite tournament, and one I look forward to the day after it ends. And to perform like this is disappointing. I'm disappointed in myself because I expect a lot more of myself, out of my game and so forth this week."
The last time Mickelson failed to finish 72 holes in red numbers at the Masters was in 2007 when he shot 11 over and tied for 24th. That also happens to be the last time he didn't play the week before the Masters, as was the case this year when his normal stop, the Shell Houston Open, was moved up in the PGA TOUR schedule.
"I've got to look at that because the things I did this week to get ready I just wasn't as mentally sharp as I need to be, and I've got to find another way to get ready for big events if I'm not able to compete the week before," Mickelson said.
The big left-hander said he and his instructor Butch Harmon may have identified some things to work on during their practice session on Sunday, though. With the Wells Fargo Championship and THE PLAYERS Championship looming back-to-back in two weeks, such clarity couldn't happen a moment too soon.
"I had some technical issues or fundamental issues with my swing, and I've had it the last couple months, but I believe I have the direction now to work on it, so I'll spend some time in two weekends and see if I can get it ironed out for a good run at Charlotte and THE PLAYERS," Mickelson said.
Phil Mickelson shoots 77 on Saturday at Augusta National.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson has always been a glass half-full kind of guy, and Saturday was no exception.
After firing a 77 that included consecutive double bogeys on the back nine, Mickelson described his play in the first three rounds alternately as "beyond terrible" and "heartbreaking." The three-time Masters champ sits at 8 over and has made bogey or worse on 16 of the 54 holes he's played this week.
So what's the positive he takes from the last three days?
"It is a beautiful day here, and you cannot get a more majestic day here at the Masters," Mickelson said. "... Where else would you rather be than Augusta National with this kind of weather on a weekend? It's just spectacular, and certainly I wish I played better, but it sure is fun being here."
Mickelson said he's "disappointed" in his performance at the one tournament "I look forward to more than anything." He's relatively happy with the way he's putting but his ball-striking has been mediocre, at best -- particularly with his irons.
"I just don't know where it's going to go," said Mickelson, whose play has been decidedly inconsistent since he picked up his 41st victory earlier this year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The consecutive doubles came as Mickelson made his way through the Amen Corner at Nos. 11 and 12.
"I'm 4 over for the tournament, so it's not like I'm right in the thick of it and had a heartbreaking shot that went in the water and cost me the tournament," Mickelson said. "I just hit a couple of terrible shots.
"But that's kind of the way it is out here. What I love about Augusta National is when you play well you can score really well, like Nick Watney did the back nine, shot a bunch under par, and if you play the way I did you shoot quite a few over. That really gives the players who are playing well a chance to separate themselves and identifies the best player."
Watney, for the record, made birdie on the 11th hole, then played Nos. 13-16 in 5 under, including an eagle at the 15th hole. He said Mickelson was't the "Phil we're used to seeing" but Watney was impressed by the way he continued to grind.
"We have all been there, unfortunately, and it was a bit of a lesson for me just because you know he's out of sorts, but he was still swinging pretty confidently, definitely wasn't guiding it out there, which I tend to do when I'm playing poorly," Watney said. "So I think it says a lot that he grinded and made the cut. I'm sure he'll be back very soon."
Instead of contending once again, though, Mickelson is languishing at the bottom of the leaderboard, one shot ahead of the 14-year-old amateur from China, Guan Tianlang -- who is eight months older than Mickelson's eldest daughter Amanda. Mickelson and Guan could be paired together on SUnday for the final round.
"That would be cool," Mickelson said. "I saw him earlier here last week as we were getting ready for the tournament. What a classy person he is. He's got a great game. I hope that happens. ... I wish we were a lot lower score, but hopefully we'll have a chance to do it."
Phil Mickelson shot 40 on the back nine on Friday.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA,, Ga. -- Augusta National giveth and it taketh away. We all know that, and Phil Mickelson was the most recent example after two completely opposite tours of the final nine holes on the Alister Mackenzie masterpiece.
The three-time Masters champion had taken advantage of the memorable stretch on Thursday, coming home in 33 to get into red numbers at 1 under. On Friday, though, Mickelson made three bogeys and one double on the way to a 40 and a disappointing round of 76.
"I made a lot of mistakes today," the popular lefthander said. "I made a lot of poor mistakes that I just can't do around here."
One of the biggest came at the 10th hole as he hit a gap wedge to the back pin on the 460-yard par 4. The ball landed in a greenside bunker, though, and Mickelson turned a "pretty easy" shot out of the sand into a 15 foot par putt that he missed.
"So I don't know what happened there, but it threw me and it carried over to the next shot, because I hit an awful shot at 10," said Mickelson, who made another bogey there.
An errant 9-iron at the 12th hole produced the lone double bogey. He followed with a birdie at the par-5 12th but dropped shots on the next two holes and the tide was completely turned.
"I was disappointed," Mickelson said. "After I doubled 12, I came back with a birdie. I think I was only 1 over for the Tournament at the time. So I could have gotten right back to even or 1 under coming in. And I had a good drive on 14, I hit a gap wedge again short and ... I made bogey."
Mickelson's cumulative score of 3 over leaves the World Golf Hall of Famer with considerable ground to make up if he is going to have a chance on Sunday. But he knows that Augusta National, perhaps more than any other course, offers opportunities when you least expect them.
"You're never out of this tournament," Mickelson said. "You just never know what's going to happen.
"I've got a little bit of work to do, it doesn't feel far off. My putter is very close. I've hit a lot of good putts that have not gone in that have come very close the first two days. If I can get a couple to fall and hit a few more good shots, I think that I have something in the mid 60s, which I will need tomorrow to get back in it".
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The first round of the Masters always provides plenty of entertainment and storylines, and Thursday was no exception.
Whether it was 53-year-old Fred Couples turning back the clock (again), or 14-year-old Tianlang Guan shooting 73, or Sergio Garcia grabbing a share of the lead at a place where a year ago he said he didn't have it in him to win a major, there was a lot to soak up.
Friday, however, is more serious with players positioning for the weekend. With that in mind, here are a few groups to keep an eye on in the morning wave.
Tianlang Guan, Ben Crenshaw, Matteo Manassero, 9:06 a.m.: "Very, very impressive" is how Crenshaw described the teenager's performance in the opening round. A former phenom himself, that's not hyperbole from the former Masters champ. Guan had the best score of the six amateurs in the field and now has a chance to make it to the weekend.
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, 9:39 a.m.: Garcia shot 66 in the opening round, matching his career low here, and recorded his first bogey-free round here since 2002. It's the first time he's led after any round of the Masters; now the question is can he keep it going? He's 1-for-9 in his career in converting first-round leads into wins on the PGA TOUR.
Dustin Johnson, Fred Couples, Branden Grace, 9:50 a.m.: Johnson said Thursday that Augusta National suits his eye. It looked like it. He shot 67 and is one off the lead entering the second round. The key for him: Putting. Johnson took just 26 putts in the first round. Meanwhile, for all of Couples' success here, Thursday was just the fifth time he's cracked 70 in the opening round. That bodes well for him the rest of week -- he has 11 career top 10s here and in each of the last three years has finished in the top 15. He always feels ageless here and fed off Johnson, a sort of younger version of himself. There's no reason to think he can't again.
Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, 10:23 a.m.: Mickelson admitted to being too "tentative" in his opening-round 71. Translation: With a wet and soft golf course, and 33 players breaking par in the opening round, Mickelson is going to be very aggressive on Friday.
Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Freddie Jacobson, 10:34 a.m.: McIlroy's opening round was a mess, but he held it together well enough to shoot even par. He'll have to clean up his putting, however, if he's going to get in contention for the weekend. Ditto Bradley, who had 30 putts and an up-and-down day but managed to scrape out a couple of birdies on his way to a 73.
Mickelson opened with a 1-under 71 Thursday at Augusta National. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson isn't known for being conservative on the golf course.
He was Thursday, and it cost him -- at least a few shots, anyway.
Mickelson shot a 1-under 71 and trails by five after the opening round of the Masters, where he is looking for his fourth career Green Jacket and second since 2010.
"I thought I would come out a little bit passive and tentative and I did," Mickelson said. "I didn't feel great starting out or confident."
Most of that stemmed from some recent struggles that included a 79 and a missed cut at Bay Hill.
Mickelson also hadn't played since the Shell Houston Open two weeks ago. He typically prefers to play the week before a major.
"It was a round where it didn't help me much," he said of Thursday. "But it certainly didn't hurt me."
What did were three bogeys in his first seven holes.
"I didn't hit my irons good, I didn't hit anything good, " he said. "I don't want to put much stock in the front."
The back nine was a different story, mostly, with Mickelson making four birdies in a five-hole stretch between Nos. 12 and 16.
But he also struggled with the pace of the greens, which were slower than normal on an overcast day with a heavy air hanging over Augusta National.
"Consequently we have 45 people at par or better," Mickelson said. "That means that I've got to change my whole mindset and just get after these pins, because the ball's not running like it used to.
"I'm giving this course way too much respect because of my past knowledge than the way I should be playing it."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A line of thunderstorms spanning as far north as Kentucky and as far south as southern Louisiana is barreling toward Augusta National. The expected arrival time: Approximately 4 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, here's a look at a few afternoon groups to keep an eye on as they'll try to get in as much golf as they can before the heavy stuff hits.
Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Angel Cabrera, 12:57 p.m.: Scott has fared well here the last couple of years, tying for eighth in 2012 and second in 2011. The latter was Scott's best finish in a major at the time, and he held the lead by himself while playing the 71st hole. Then Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win by two. Garcia, meanwhile, famously said a year ago here that he doesn't think he will ever win a major. He's softened his stance since, but he has just two career top 10s here, the last of which came in 2004 when he tied for fourth. Cabrera has won a major -- three of them -- including this one in 2009.
Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, 1:30 p.m.: It's not a driver, it's not quite a 3-wood, it's a Phrankenwood. Mickelson never disappoints when he comes here, one way or the other, and this year is no different with a special club in his bag that's part driver, part 3-wood. He's also won here three times before. Oosthuizen lost to Bubba Watson in a playoff here last year, and he comes in off a 10th-place finish in Houston. He's also played well on the European Tour, winning the Volvo Champions in January.
Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Freddie Jacobson, 1:41 p.m.: Bradley has been a popular pick in various Masters pools in the press room and with good reason. Bradley, who two years ago won his first major at the PGA Championship, arrives here off four straight top 10s, including a tie for fourth at PGA National and a tie for third at Bay Hill. McIlroy, on the other hand, has had his ups-and-downs but seems to be trending in the right direction after a 65 at Doral and a runner-up in San Antonio.
In three of Tiger Woods' four wins, he led the field in greens in regulation. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Bryan Mullen, PGATOUR.COM
When it comes to how Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson claim their Masters victories, they are more statistically similar than one might assume. They hit about the same number of fairways, they are both even on par 3s during their victorious years and they dominate the par 5s.
But there is one part of the game where they distinctly differ, and it comes around the greens.
In three of Woods’ four victories, he led the field in greens in regulation. The only year he won and did not lead that category was in 2005, but he still finished second in greens hit.
In Mickelson’s three wins, he finished first in greens in regulation only once (2004), but finished an average of 11th place in scrambling, including second in 2004. Last year at Augusta, he was first in scrambling and finished tied for third. It is another example of Mickelson’s well-known ability to get up and down from anywhere.
Woods finished an average of 21st in scrambling during his Masters wins, but was so commanding in hitting greens that scrambling was rarely an issue.
Phil Mickelson has won three of the last nine events at Augusta National. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
EQUIPMENT: Will Phil's new 'Phrankenwood' give him an edge?
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Confident. Excited. Rarin' to go. Now those are words you normally associate with Phil Mickelson on the veritable eve of the Masters Tournament.
Not nervous. Not even one little bit.
But that's exactly how Phil Mickelson described his state of mind on Tuesday. For just the second time since 1998, the three-time Masters champion has come to Augusta National after taking the previous week off rather than competing.
Mickelson altered his schedule this year because the Valero Texas Open made a one-year appearance on the PGA TOUR calendar as the lead-up event to the Masters. The Shell Houston Open normally occupies the spot and has become known for trying to simulate Augusta National conditions, particularly around the green complexes at Redstone Golf Club, which was just to Mickelson's liking.
Conditions at TPC San Antonio, though, can often be windy and the course is much tighter than Augusta National. Mickelson, who won the Shell Houston Open in 2011, was worried that conditions would be the "exact opposite" of how he wants to prepare for the Masters.
"I want to hit it long and far and not worry about accuracy as much," he explained. "I want to flight the ball up in the air to get the ball soft as opposed to down to keep it out of the wind."
So Mickelson decided to take the week off. He came to Augusta on Friday and spent three days putting in the hours on the state-of-the-art practice facility as well as getting reacquainted with the masterpiece of Alister Mackenzie and Bobby Jones.
"The course is very close to tournament setup, and so I'm hopeful that I'll get off to a good start and take that preparation and shoot a low score," said said Mickelson, who tied for 24th in 2007, which was the last time he played the Masters after an off week.
"But I am a little bit nervous."
Mickelson, though, has taken what he calls "scrupulous notes" during his 20 previous Masters appearances. He knows where he can be aggressive and which pins put a premium on par. He takes comfort in the fact that he can rely on his vaunted short game for the occasional recovery shot.
"And knowing that, I relax, because I don't have to be perfect," Mickelson said. "It's not like the U.S. Open where if you make one little mistake, it's costing you one or two shots because you don't have the ability to recover."
That said, Mickelson wasn't able to recover from a triple bogey on the par-3 fourth hole a year ago on Sunday as he finished two strokes shy of winning a fourth Green Jacket. He was disappointed but he still relished the challenge.
"I think that what makes the Masters so exciting is having an opportunity to win; playing the back nine with an opportunity," Mickelson said. "That is what is so enjoyable, exciting as a player. And I've been fortunate to come out on top a few years and I've been unfortunate to have a number of them come close but not quite good enough.
"But either way, having that opportunity to be in the thick of it and to feel that excitement, to feel that pressure, to grace Amen Corner knowing that you need birdies and trying to win a green jacket, that is the greatest thrill a golfer can possibly experience."