Big move by Phil Mickelson leaves him in second place at Masters
They call it Moving Day, and that term took on multiple meanings during a round that Phil Mickelson — and those who witnessed his brilliance — will not soon forget.
For starters, Mickelson moved up the leaderboard, from a five-way tie for third place into sole possession of second with a five-under-par 67 that featured eagles on the 13th and 14th holes.
The cheers after Mickelson holed the second eagle — with a pitching wedge from 140 yards — practically made the earth shake. Or, rather, move.
“That roar on 14, I haven’t heard one like that in a long time,” said Mickelson’s swing coach, Butch Harmon. “Anybody that says Augusta has gotten boring on the back nine is full of [garbage].”
More incredible, Mickelson almost made a third consecutive eagle when his pitch from 87 yards on the par-five 15th spun back to within an arm’s length of the cup. Mickelson thought he had it: “I was expecting it to disappear.”
“You know Phil,” his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, said. “He loves this place and has a real game plan when he comes here. He has that magic book in his back pocket. He knows every inch of the place.”
As jubilant as the day was for Phil’s Phanatics, the reality is that Mickelson is in second place.
Lee Westwood bogeyed one hole Saturday, shooting a four-under 68 that featured a 349-yard drive on the eighth hole and several nifty recovery shots.
“I’ve been proud of myself all week,” Westwood said. “I’ve controlled my emotions well and gotten up and down when I’ve needed to.”
Westwood (12 under) and Mickelson (11 under) are three clear of the field, but you would be foolish to treat their Sunday pairing as a match-play battle for the green jacket.
Tiger Woods and K.J. Choi are four shots behind Westwood, and Fred Couples is five back.
Woods slogged through a five-bogey round that tested his recent vow to chill out on the golf course.
After Woods hit a lousy tee shot on No. 6, he cursed loudly.
The CBS microphones caught his outburst, prompting Verne Lundquist to observe: “I don’t think he was pleased.”
Mickelson, meanwhile, sweet-talked his ball after striking a splendid approach shot on the eighth: “Come on, honey.”
Mickelson made that birdie and took the lead after his birdie on No. 15.
“It was really a fun day to see the leaderboard change,” said Mickelson, who was at his gee-whiz best in the postround interview, uttering the word “cool” three times.
Couples played a group behind Mickelson. After Mickelson drained his approach shot on No. 14, Couples yelled to him: “I want that ball!”
Mickelson responded with a goofy grin.
“You know how he is,” Couples said.
On a day of perfect conditions and brilliant blue skies, the field put up eight eagles. That made it an expensive day for Masters officials, who award a pair of crystal goblets for each eagle.
Neither Mickelson nor Mackay could remember if Mickelson had ever picked up four shots on the field in a span of two holes.
“I think there’s a British Open course in England with consecutive par fives,” Mackay said. “He might have done it one year, but I’m not positive.”
Only twice before had it been done at the Masters — by Dustin Johnson, in 2009, and Dan Pohl, in 1982. Like Mickelson, both did so on the 13th and 14th holes.
“It’s the Masters, you know,” Mackay said. “Great stuff like that seems to happen.”