Phil Mickelson flames out at the Masters, will watch as 'punishment'

Andrew Redington

Phil Mickelson will have to wait ‘til next year to win a Tiger Woods-tying 4th green jacket after missing the cut at the Masters for the first time since 1997.

The least Phil Mickelson can do after missing the cut at Augusta for the first time in 17 years is help boost TV ratings for the Tiger Woods-less Masters tournament.

Thanks to a triple bogey in each of the first two rounds and a 36-hole total of 5-over 149, it looks like the three-time winner of the green jacket will do just that.

"Probably. It’s an exciting tournament," Mickelson, after carding a second-round 1-over 73 and missing the cut by one shot, told reporters about whether he would watch the conclusion of his favorite competition. "I probably will; it will kind of be my punishment."

It’s not as if Mickelson had not suffered enough, given those dueling triples, which he racked up naturally, with nary a penalty stroke. There was the seven on the par-4 seventh on Thursday, thanks to a sloppy chip shot and three putts.

A day later, it was the par-3 12th at Amen Corner that was Lefty’s undoing. His tee shot came up short into a front bunker, which typically presents no challenge for the normally sure-handed short-game wizard. On this day, however, he flew the green and landed in the sand at the back, and, totally out of character, bombed his next shot back into the sand.

"What happened at 12 was I hit in the front bunker, and there was no sand where I was at," Mickelson 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."

So Mickelson, who has had almost as lackluster a season as Woods, will join his long-time rival on the sidelines for the remainder of the men’s first major of the season. Though he was banged up coming into this week, Mickelson said his strained oblique muscle was fine.

The same could not be said of Woods, whose recent back surgery kept him from competing in the event for the first time since 1994.

For Mickelson, who finished outside the top 50 and ties, 12 shots behind 36-hole leader Bubba Watson, it was only the second MC in 22 Masters starts. Seeking his fourth green jacket to match those hanging in the closets of Woods and Arnold Palmer, Mickelson entered the week with 16 straight cuts made to Woods’ 17.

"It’s going to be close," he said about his chances of making the cut before the day’s results were in. "It’s right on the bubble."

Mickelson’s MC and Woods’ missed start will also mark the first time since 1994 that the Masters will proceed without both superstars playing on the weekend.

"It was OK," Mickelson said. "I didn’t play great, I didn’t play bad. I just had one bad hole there at 12. I keep making these triples, they’re tough to overcome."

MIckelson was not alone among the notables whose Masters came to a crashing halt on Friday. Reigning PGA champion Jason Dufner, whose fate was sealed with that wacky quadruple-bogey 9 on 13 on Thursday, finished at 10-over. Dufner’s pal, Keegan Bradley went home at 9-over.

Dustin Johnson, whose penalty on the par-5 15th on Thursday evoked memories of Woods’ tilt with the flagstick last year, was 7-over. Sergio Garcia, who got to Augusta with confidence after finishing third last week in Houston, matched Mickelson’s 5-over.

But for Thursday's brain cramp in the bunker, Luke Donald would still be in the mix. Instead, the former No. 1 was also gone after posting a 5-over. Even "top-five" golfer Patrick Reed (+8) may have to reassess his stature in the game after being humbled by his first sojourn around Augusta.

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