Augusta National The Masters 2012
April 9, 2012 by staff
Augusta National The Masters 2012, Augusta National is supposed to be all about azalea bushes and pine trees. But somehow, early in his quest for a fourth green jacket, Phil Mickelson found a jungle.
How he got there was the result of one of the worst breaks of his Masters career. His tee shot on the par-3 fourth hole hit metal railing on the grandstand and shot to its left, just over the galleries and into the woods.
How he got out — or, more accurately, how many strokes it took for him to get out — cost him a chance at history.
He found the ball covered in ivy and took two swings at it, right handed, with the back of the club. The first time the ball came at him just 6 inches. The second time, he advanced it a few yards onto a patch of green-painted kitty litter where the galleries were standing.
From there, he hit a flop shot into the bunker. Finally, he played a perfect sand shot to within a few inches of the cup, but the damage had been done. He carded a triple-bogey 6.
Later, after carding an even-par 72 that left him tied for third, Mickelson refused to second guess himself. Had he made par on the fourth, he would have won the tournament by a stroke.
“I mean, tactically I hit that shot where I had to hit it, which is at the bunker. Anything left of the pin is fine,” he said. “I was just hopeful that it almost caught the bunker — it was just left to have bunker but it should have been just in the grandstands with the people, easy chip up the hill.
“I wouldn’t have done anything different. That’s strategically where you have to play it to that pin on that hole. It’s the hardest par on the golf course.”
He did have the option of returning to the tee and hitting again, instead of hacking away at a ball buried in the jungle, but Mickelson dismissed that.
“Well, then I’ve got the hardest shot again,” he said. “And again, the hardest par. So I’m looking at 5 at best, probably 6. I felt like it was worth the risk and it may have cost me, what, half a shot at most?”
Actually, it cost him the tournament. Mickelson had another triple bogey on the 10th hole on Thursday, so those six lost shots were the difference between a disappointing third and a runaway win.
He missed his chance to join Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods as the only men with four Masters wins, second only to Jack Nicklaus’ six. With the way he confidently played the course on Friday and Saturday, he was the clear favorite when the day began, even though he trailed Peter Hanson by a stroke when the day began.
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