Phil Mickelson is trying to add more obstacles to the challenge of winning a fourth green jacket. The lefty made his way through the par-3 course at Augusta National Golf Club in 23 strokes, finishing at 4-under to hold the current lead. It's a well-known jinx that no player who has won the Masters Par-3 Contest on Wednesday has gone on to win the green jacket on Sunday.
Mickelson is one of just eight players who are already done with the short nine-hole event. The first groups went off around 12:30 p.m. ET, and Mickelson made sure to wrap everything up well before ESPN comes on the air at 3 p.m. ET. The veteran lefty traditionally plays another local-area course before the other majors, particularly the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. But everything is different in Augusta and the three-time winner enjoys playing in the Par-3 Contest, unlike Tiger Woods, who went out on the big course early this morning for a practice stroll.
Jim Furyk finished his nine holes in 4-under, which would have tied Phil except that Furyk did not officially enter his card and was given a designation of "Not Scored." Brandt Snedeker is currently in second place but two strokes back of Phil at 2-under. Mickelson told the press on Tuesday that he was nervous about how he prepared for this week, as he chose not to play in the event immediately preceding the season's first major. If the par-3 leaderboard stays as it is, he'll have another reason to be nervous.
There are plenty of big names who still have to play, but Mickelson's 4-under may hold up. Rory McIlroy (with Caroline Wozniacki on the bag) and Graeme McDowell will go off right at 3 p.m. ET, when ESPN comes on the air with coverage. Visit Masters.com for the current leaderboard.
***UPDATE! They have changed the board, and Phil apparently also took a "Not Scored" to drop off the lead and join Furyk on sidelines, out of the running for the contest title.
Phil Mickelson takes a "Not Scored" for Par 3 Contest. Avoids the jinx. He also won't walk under ladders or let black cats cross his path.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) April 10, 2013
Some additional details on the alleged scorecard mishap: