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April 13 2013

4:25 PM

Mickelson calls play 'beyond terrible'

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."
 

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