Phil Mickelson had it, but let it slip away. He could have tied Tiger Woods with four wins at the Masters, but a triple bogey on the fourth hole left him out of the playoffs between Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen, for a disappointing finish at a tied third for the 2012 Masters.
Again, it was Mickelson’s risk taking that was his undoing. He was brilliant on Friday and Saturday, going 68 and 66, entering the fourth day with a -8, trailing one shot behind Peter Hanson. And then it all fell apart in the fourth hole. Mickelson shot a triple-bogey on a par 3. Taking a risk, aiming where others golfers don’t dare aim, that’s how Mickelson works. This time, he probably over thought, took too much of a risk.
The rumors of Oosthuizen’s albatross/double eagle were probably heard by then, and Mickelson felt it was time to rush it. Like in the US Open six year ago, his unconventional thinking, probably even over thinking in tough situations instead of going by the playbook, giving up a bogey instead of going all in, cost him his fifth Majors title.
Mickelson tried to explain that he planned for the bunker or left of it, that he didn’t want a bogey and he was sure he could come up on par. Instead, he landed in the trees, and hacked his way out of there, making his second triple bogey of the tournament. The stats show that 41 of the 63 players in the final round made par on that difficult hole, with only one player other than Mickelson doing worse than a bogey.
Maybe it was Mickelson feeling he had this one in the bag. Feeling the most experienced out of the potential winners heading into the final day, coming off an incredible Saturday-Friday stretch, the confidence was booming high. A bit too high as it turned out, as the birdies that came later couldn’t help Mickelson cover up the ground he had lost.
Overall, tying for third isn’t that bad. He still did better than Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, all mentioned before him as potential winners. McIlroy and Woods tied for 40th, as the generation battle didn’t really happen. It simply crashed together, but we’ve already been through Woods’ woes and McIlroy not being able to handle pressure at times.
Mickelson was primed and ready to show he’s better than anyone in Augusta. The field was favorable, and the feeling was Peter Hanson wouldn’t be able to hang on if Mickelson kept playing like he did. Turns out they both couldn’t hold their nerves. The sad thing for Mickelson is that ‘Oh no, not again’ feeling that went along with his nightmarish hole no. 4.