- The Augusta Chronicle
Friday, April 11, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Few things are more unpleasant than monitoring a Mas­ters cut line, but watching the Masters weekend on television is one.

“It’ll kind of be my punishment,” Phil Mickelson said after three birdies in his last five holes proved too little to keep him in the chase for a fourth green jacket.

For the second time in three years, Mickelson cost himself immensely with blowup holes. Two triple bogeys derailed his chances to win the 2012 Masters, and he drew another pair to cost him the cut this week.

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His second-round 73 left him sitting on 5-over par and hoping a windy afternoon would send the cut line tumbling far enough to let him stay.

“It’s going to be close,” he said. “It’s right on the bubble. I was looking at the cut line. I don’t want to be looking for the leaderboard, but I’m always fighting to make the weekend, it seems like.”

On Thursday, Mickelson took five shots to get down from 35 feet, making triple bogey on the par-4 seventh. On Friday, he played bunker pool on the par-3 12th for another triple.

“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,” he said. “So it’s tough to overcome those big numbers.”

Mickelson’s tee shot into the gusty winds on No. 12 came up short in the front bunker, catching an unlucky lie that led to three consecutive bunker shots.

“And there was no sand where I was at,” he said. “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.”

It was reminiscent of the day before, on the seventh, when his chip from the back apron kept rolling past the cup and off the other side of the green. He chipped back long and three-putted.

“That’s what I’ve been nervous about is having a hole like 7 yesterday, a hole like 12 today, where I go along, making pars, putting the ball in the right spot, and you just get a bad situation,” he said. “And I end up letting, instead of one sliding, two or three are going away. That’s the kind of stuff when you’re playing tournament golf, and you’re mentally sharp, you don’t do. And that’s the kind of stuff I seem to be doing right now.”

In 2012, Mickelson played in the final group Sunday after battling back from a triple bogey on the 10th on Thursday. But disaster struck again on the fourth hole, where his tee shot on the par-3 hit a railing on the grandstands and bounced into a thicket of bamboo. Two right-handed slashes led to another triple bogey that ruined his chances to win.

Trying to rally again Fri­day, Mickelson made birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17. But a three-putt bogey on No. 16 left him on the outside looking in.

“It was OK,” he said. “I didn’t play great. I didn’t play bad. I just had one bad hole there at 12.”

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