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Phil Mickelson at the Masters: I’m driving it like a stallion

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson, on the 460-yard, par-4 9th hole at Augusta National Golf Club, drove his tee shot over the trees on the left side of the hole, and it settled a short 136 yards away. Mickelson, on the 440-yard, par-4 14th hole, drove his tee shot down the center of the fairway and he had just a wedge shot into the green. Same thing on 440-yard, par-4 17th. Drive down the middle, wedge in. 

He wasn’t just driving it well. 

“I’m driving like a stallion,” Mickelson said Friday after his second round at the Masters.

Starting on the 12th hole after his first round was suspended due to darkness on Thursday, Mickelson birdied the 13th. Then the 16th and 17th. A bogey on 18 gave him a three-under 69. Mickelson then birdied his first hole of his second round, the 10th, rattled off four more birdies and finished with a two-over 70 and a five-under total.

When he walked off his last hole, the three-time green jacket winner was four strokes off the lead and tied for 13th.    

Giddy-up.

“I’m striking the ball exceptional, and I’m putting horrific,” Mickelson said. “And if I get that fixed this weekend, I’m going to make a run.”

The exceptional. The stallion. Using a 47.5-inch driver, he averaged 302 yards off the tee in the first round, and 295 in the second, both numbers higher than the field average. In the first round, he hit 79 percent of his fairways, and in the second, 71. Both, again, higher than the field average. 

The horrific. He took 1.61 putts in the first and 1.72 in the second. Both worse than the field average. Mickelson also three-putted the 3rd hole from 18 feet during his second round. 

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“I’m very frustrated and disappointed with the way I’ve putted,” Mickelson said. “I’ve left eight, nine, 10 shots on the green, and it’s pathetic, and I’m going to fix that and hopefully make a run. But you can’t make those mistakes, give those shots up in this field, in this competition.

“But we’ve got 36 more holes, and I’m playing well enough. I struck it well enough to keep me in it despite probably being last in the field in putting. But I’m going to get that fixed for tomorrow’s round.”

Mickelson will do it, too, in front of “the most charismatic, intelligent, dynamic person” he said he’s ever met. 

His wife, Amy. 

Without patrons this year, she’s walked the course more closely than she has in her husband’s previous appearances. On 10 on Friday, they walked arm in arm. 

“Her energy and support means more to me than anything, and to be able to see her and be able to see her out here and have her on holes that she’s never been able to see before, like 12 and 13, is an experience of a lifetime for both of us,” Mickelson said. “I’m so happy she’s here.”

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