After Saturday 69, Phil Mickelson hoping for Jack moment Sunday at Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. - After nine bogies in two rounds, Phil Mickelson cleaned up his scorecard in Augusta National on Saturday.
The three-time Masters champion only logged one bogey as part of a third round, 3-under-69, which led him to be an equal for the tournament.
"This was a round, for the first time in a long time, that I kept saving and placing shots in the right place," said Mickelson. “I didn't hit it as well as in the first few days, but I did. I put it in the right place. I walked up and down a lot, and it felt good to shoot at least one number. It wasn't the easiest, but it felt good to shoot a number. "
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Mickelson started his day by first draining an 11-foot birdie. Then he drove it up near the green at the par-4 third and got a 4-foot boat for another birdie. His only flaw came in seventh with a bogey, but he immediately bounced back with a birdie. His last birdie of the round was a two-putt from 44 feet in 13th place when his playing competitor Billy Horschel slipped, fell and hit a shot from the creek.
Although Mickelson found his own water at # 15 and briefly dropped a 7-iron into the drink from 191 yards, he was able to save par to keep his solid lap going.
"I feel like there are about six yardage pins and then there are some hard pins," said Mickelson. "You have to do longer putts, and I didn't quite do those 30, 40 feet to get the lap really low."
Mickelson has landed no better than T-18 since finishing second at Augusta National in 2015. It's also been five years since his last big top 10. Overall, Mickelson hasn't had a top 25 worldwide since Memphis last summer and has slipped to 115th in the world.
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"I'll be honest with you, a few years ago I would have said I'm not sure what kind of game Phil is playing, but I think he's showing some bright spots," said Horschel. “I think if you look at the past few years, his iron game doesn't match the standards we all know. And I think I saw this week, or at least I saw today, and in the past few months his iron game is back. He drives it better and he looks like he's rolling it up just fine. ... And it still hits pretty far. He's still working on it. He'll overtake me when he's working on it. Look, the guy has a lot of confidence in himself. He's not afraid to hit the shot when asked.
“Does that mean he's got something special for the next few years? No, but I think I wouldn't be shocked if he won anywhere in the next few years. "
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Mickelson finished his third round seven strokes behind leader Justin Rose, who was teeing off. Although he didn't seem sure he would stand a chance in his fourth Masters, Mickelson noted the late afternoon forecast that would require stronger winds and perhaps some rain.
"I didn't play well enough in the first two days and threw too many strokes away to really give myself a legitimate opportunity, but sometimes you get lucky and come out this morning and it was playable and I made some birdies" said Mickelson. “Then the wind picks up and the guides aren't going anywhere, and you have a chance on Sunday, which I am sure I hope for. I have to do something in the mid to low 60s that is still fun to have a chance.
"They want this opportunity to do what [Jack] Nicklaus did in 1986 and shoot 65 and have a chance."
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